Ellie Launches Athletic Wear Line to Compete with Lululemon

February 1, 2013

9:49 am

Walk into the popular athletic wear mecca Lululemon with $50, and you’ll walk out with one item – maybe. Many of the pants and tank topics and even some shorts will be out of your reach.

Starting today, disappointed yogis can stretch their dollars further with new apparel brand Ellie, which just announced $2 million in funding from Trinity Ventures, Rustin Canyon Partners, and Blumberg Capital. Ellie isn’t your average fashion brand, but rather a tech company launched out of incubator Science Inc.

 “We’re applying a good bit of tech startup mentality into a very traditional industry,” says cofounder Marcus Greinke.

That mentality started with honing in on a market opportunity – for products cheaper than Lululemon, but more expensive than the brands you might find at Target. Ellie sells a variety of leggings, capris, shorts, running skirts, tanks, and tops for around $30 to $60.

Partly thanks to Lululemon, yoga pants and their counterparts are becoming a lifestyle – not confined to the gym, but bringing stretchy comfort to errands and hangouts. Lindsay Daniels, the company’s creative force, followed that trend with Ellie. The pieces have high-fashion colors and detailing, plus high-tech fabrics like supplex, eclon, and power mesh that wick away moisture, retain their shape in the wash, and stay bright. It’s fashionable and functional.

In keeping with its tech startup roots, the Ellie team spent months crafting an innovative approach to manufacturing. While traditional companies let manufacturers do most of the work – subjecting them to the manufacturers’ timelines – Ellie hired an in-house design and production team. They can create a “prototype” in 12 hours, perfect it, and then make all the samples in their office in a few days. By sending pre-made samples to a Los Angeles manufacturer, they might have a finished product in anywhere from 10 to 24 days.

Using this flexibility, Ellie will release 24 new styles every month with an eye on the latest trends. And if you head over to Ellie.com with $50, your dollars will go further than at Lululemon: you can get a monthly subscription for two items per month. Namaste. 

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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