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Hands On: lululemon ‘At Ease’ Collection

All Photos: HiConsumption

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There’s a fine line between leisurely, in-home wear, and the sometimes-sloppy “pajama.” The comfortable, sleep-focused staple has always straddled the line between genres, serving as the perfect bedtime garment, while also taking on an entirely different role as common weekend wear; at least when nobody’s looking. But why are we so ashamed of our loungewear, and is there some cryptic, unspoken rule that states when and where these soft, cozy clothing pieces can be utilized? lululemon doesn’t think so.

From the moment that the transcendental company first debuted in 1998, it was clear that leisurewear would never be the same. Not only did the Vancouver-based brand bring new, enlightening ideas to the table regarding in- and out-of-home loungewear, but it ushered in, almost singlehandedly, a torrent of athleisure offerings that would blur the lines between fitness, recovery, and loungewear. Over the past 20 years, lululemon’s influence within the space has been on a continuous upturn, radically accelerating toward superfluity. Innovation after innovation, technology after technology, and material after material, the brand has evolved into something much more than you’re average, everyday leisure outfit. Recently, we had a chance to test the brand’s latest collection — a hybridized four-piece set that was created to change the world’s impression of adaptable loungewear. Dive into our hands-on review below.

Comfort Is Key

lululemon’s top priority

At first glance, the “At Ease” Collection might look like run-of-the-mill loungewear. It’s simple, subtle, and understated. But with this minimalist design terminology comes an undeniable feeling of zen — a certain “tranquility” that’s ill-matched by the genre’s alternative clothing providers. Typically, our leisurewear is meant to invoke feelings of serenity, comfort, and simplicity, but many times, we’ve been led astray by companies that promise too much, achieve too little, or squander their potential with unnecessary complexity. When it comes to the At Ease Crew, Short, Jogger, and Hoodie, nothing is left to chance. Upon inspection, it’s clear that every line, fabric, and opening has been carefully conceived, produced, and implemented. Breathability is no longer an afterthought. Mobility? Mobility stands at the apex of the four-piece collection; the driving force behind each and every subtle stroke, and the foundation upon which our story begins.

The Materials

Understanding technical loungewear

As lululemon’s flagship offering in its newly-drafted “technical loungewear” line, the At Ease collection would need to set the standard for the genre’s ambitious garments. To achieve this, the brand designed the capsule with three important aspects in mind: performance, comfort, and style. Traditionally, buyers would have to choose between two of the three. Opting for performance and style would leave you with a bland, and oftentimes, overly-complex garment. If you wanted comfort and style, performance was often left on the table. And if style and performance were your primary concern, it was difficult (but not impossible) to find a loungewear piece that you could wear during a lazy day on the couch. Obviously, lululemon’s mission coincided with this unique notion.

To create a garment that included all three aspects (without garnering weakness in any chosen area) the brand employed a wide range of technical fabrics, including sturdy mixtures of cotton, polyester, and elastane, to obtain unparalleled mobility. As a result, each garment was gifted with a comfortable and unobtrusive four-way-stretch fabric, making it a perfect option for post-workout recovery, an early-morning pickup game at the park, or a lazy afternoon indoors. If you’ve ever tried to transition from one medium to another, it can often be a difficult task. With lululemon’s At Ease collection, that’s no longer the case. A single outfit can, and will, accompany you throughout the day’s plentiful activities.

The Feel

What can you expect?

When we slid into lululemon’s At Ease items for the first time, we were surprised by their efficiency. A unique, textured exterior paying homage to vintage knitwear provides each garment with its own character. We loved the added subtleties, including the sweater’s center-back locker loop, gusset, and zippered pockets. These traits allowed us to put the At Ease Short and Crew through their paces without having to worry about our important items falling free. If you’re looking to take to the trail in any of the collection’s pieces, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your EDC items will remain secure and within arm’s reach, which isn’t something that we can say for a lot of the athleisure garments that we’ve tried in the past.

When you’re done with your daily activities, the collection’s naturally-breathable construction kicks into overdrive, helping to keep you dry, comfortable, and capable. This makes the transition between athletic environments and your in-home rest area even more intuitive since you won’t have to worry about airing out your clothing whenever you head indoors. Throughout the afternoon, we utilized each of the At Ease items in their own unique areas, spanning everything from calm, focused browsing on social media, all the way to more fitness-focused endeavors like yoga and stretching. Through it all, we remained at the height of bliss. The pinching, tightening, and discomfort that we’d become accustomed to with other athleisure garments was seemingly nonexistent, leading us to believe that each piece could bridge the gap between mildly-strenuous activity and recovery, without putting up too much of fuss.

Our Verdict

How does it fare?

While the lululemon “At Ease” Collection isn’t the do-all, be-all of stylish design, it’s undeniably adept in terms of comfort and capability. At the end of the day, looks are always subjective. If you’re in the market for a smart, subdued garment that checks all the boxes required of a typical athleisure piece, you’re in luck — the Crew, Hoodie, Jogger, and Short are all inherently comfortable, but branch out from the “traditional formula” of the genre’s most prominent pieces, and into a more technical realm.

While we’ve seen garments straddle the line between the athletic and loungewear world before, few have done so with the tact of these unique outerwear pieces. As such, it’s clear that the At Ease collection is a forerunner in terms of technical acuity, traversing a path-less-traveled, and reinforcing the pioneering spirit of lululemon’s ever-innovative clothing items. If you’re interested in acquiring one of your own garments (or the entire collection), head to the brand’s website, where the At Ease collection is available now for $78 and up.

Purchase: $78+