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Introducing Cory Vines, the Startup Hoping to Take a Bite Out of Lululemon

Get to know Cory Vines, a new Canada-based e-commerce startup hoping to solve Gen-Y's activewear woes and, ultimately, become the Warby Parker of gym clothes. Lululemon may want to watch its back.
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The activewear market has long been dominated by a few megabrands. There are the behemoths like Nike and Adidas, and, more recently, Lululemon with its rapidly-growing cult-like customer base.

But there hasn't been much out there for those of us who aren't into logos and don't like joining overpriced cults, or maybe aren't so dedicated to working out in the first place that we feel the need to invest hundreds of dollars into fancy workout gear. At the same time, we don't want to wear something cheap that's going to fall apart or be totally see-through.

Enter Cory Vines, a new Canada-based e-commerce startup hoping to solve Gen-Y's activewear woes and, ultimately, become the Warby Parker of gym clothes. We spoke with founder and aspiring activewear disrupter Daniel Lieberman about what inspired him to start Cory Vines, and he pointed to three problems he wanted to solve.

One was that other burgeoning vertically integrated e-commerce companies (such as Warby Parker) were so focused on the shopping experience. "We wanted to not overwhelm customers with the shopping experience but provide them with what they need and nothing that they don’t need," he explained. Another was that most affordable activewear was of not-so-great quality. "We wanted to go in and provide quality goods at an accessible price point." Prices range from $20 for a t-shirt to $45 for a legging. Finally, he felt there was a market for people who don't want to wear one of the aformentioned megabrands. "The Gen Y-ers today, we think, want something simple and minimalistic, not something over-branded with a big Nike check across their chest." To which we say: Amen. But are there enough shoppers of the same mind? "I think people are ok with trying new things," Lieberman told me, confidently. "I dont think they need Lululemon. Very affluent people are wearing Warby Parker glasses because they look good. And they’re getting it at an accessible price point. As long as they look good, I don’t think they’re going to care."

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Another pillar of Cory Vines product is versatility--i.e. items that you can wear both in and out of the gym (or yoga studio or spin class). Lieberman found that when Cory Vines first launched, people were wearing the items in their day-to-day lives--maybe grabbing a drink in the same shirt they went to yoga in--which makes sense as it's not immediately obvious that many of them are gym clothes. Next, they're coming out with what Lieberman calls "after-workout items," including a henley for men and a boatneck top for women: "Something they’ll just slip on when they’re done."

They're starting small, seeing what appeals to their customers and what doesn't, and slowly adding new product categories as they go. For instance, just last week they launched leggings.

Right now Lieberman is focused on implementing the most seamless online shopping experience possible, but don't count out brick and mortar or wholesale in the future. "Right now our flagship is our website and we’re going to be opportunistic when the time is right to take that offline."

We think Lieberman could be onto something. Lululemon might want to watch its back.

Photos: Courtesy