Zella vs Lululemon – Are They Really Just As Good As Each Other?

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Have you asked, “Zella vs Lululemon leggings, which is better?” The fight to be the best and hottest leggings brand is highly contested.

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As consumers, you and I are left confused about where to start. I can answer this question now that I’ve worn both pairs of leggings for a few years.

ZELLA VS LULULEMON

As two beautiful athleisure brands promising to boost your overall performance and your pride in your appearance, Zella and Lululemon are amongst my favorites from a fashion and fitness perspective.

Each company is responsible for some seriously impressive and sexy pieces.

Creating some divine sportswear collections that sculpt and tone your body, contouring those areas you’d like to flatter, and emphasizing your best bits (or should I say butts!), it’s no surprise that both are plastered over your Instagram feed.

Zella Live in High Waist Leggings Review 2021
In my Zella Live In Leggings
Are Lululemon align leggings see through?
In my Lululemon Align Leggings

They’re supposedly so similar that people often ask me if Zella is a subsidiary of Lululemon itself – which it isn’t, and we’ll get into that in a second – but are there some differences in quality you should be aware of?

Today, I’m here to discuss the pros and cons of shopping at either store, covering everything from fabric to fit and adding my input where relevant. 

Who will come out on top in the ultimate showdown between attractive athleisure? 

Let’s find out!

Zella vs Lululemon Leggings: Brand Comparison Chart

ZellaLululemon
Pricing$55+ for leggings, $23+ for tops, $35+ for sports bras$95+ for leggings, $48+ for tops, $48+ for sports bras
ColorsVariousVarious
CollectionsLive In, Moto, Restore, Getaway, Z by Zella WunderUnder, Align, Energy, Scuba, Invigorate, Swiftly
ActivityYoga, athletics, general exerciseYoga, athletics, general exercise, high-intensity training
BestsellersLive In leggings, Live In pocket joggers, Work For It tank top.Scuba hoodie, Wunder Under high-waist leggings, Align crop pants.

Brand History

The Story Behind Lululemon

Boasting decades of experience in retailing sportswear with a particular flair for yoga gear, Lululemon had humble beginnings in Vancouver as one storefront.

Today, they are a monumental online store with brick-and-mortar shops all over America.

Originally focusing on leggings, Lulu’s Wunder Under and Align ranges have stormed the whole world.

The brand caters to men and women of all shapes and sizes, and their stylish workout pants can be seen on Pinterest boards and Insta feeds everywhere.

Nowadays, they stock more than bottoms – bras, joggers, tanks, long-sleeves, swimwear, yoga mats, and other accessories.

They even have a wide range of seriously impressive scientifically-backed fabrics!

The Story Behind Zella

Remember I said many people believe Zella and Lulu are the same brand?

That’s because Zella only really gained popularity (or notoriety, let’s say) for successfully snatching one of Lulu’s biggest and best designers back in 2009.

As a Nordstrom brand, Zella apparel is available in over 300 department stores across America and Canada.

They also have a regularly updated online shop that is restocked consistently if you prefer to browse from home.

One thing unique to Zella is that they regularly host pop-up stores across the country, launching their new ranges and offering exclusive deals – if you notice one in your area, I would highly recommend you check it out.

Zella vs. Lululemon Leggings: What’s The Catch?

Styles/Colors

Differentiating between these beauties based on their stylistic choices is difficult, as you’ll notice both have an elegant, higher-end look, both in feel (more on that later) and presentation. They exude quality!

That being said, I prefer Lululemon’s designs and color palettes, as they tend to be more adventurous and vivid, whereas Zella typically sticks to nudes, neutrals, and safer patterns for the most part.

That’s just personal preference, though!

lululemon Align Leggings 25
lululemon Align 25″ Leggings
Zella Studio Crop Lite Leggings
Zella Studio Crop Lite Leggings

Whilst there’s no denying that both brands are clearly fashion-forward, the entire Zella range is around 300 products large, whereas the list of items Lulu sells is somewhere in the thousands… there’s just more choice all around.

That said, you can notice the influence that sharing a designer has had – a lot of Zella pieces are certainly familiar to me, offering a feeling of deja vu…I’ve worn you before!

Still, cute is cute, and all of these pieces are cute!

Quality

Lululemon is arguably the industry standard for exceptional workout legging quality. I’ve had my Lululemon Align leggings for years, which are still in fantastic condition.

I wear these leggings more often than I’d like to admit, so getting rid of them during a wardrobe cleanout can be tricky!

Lululemon vs Zella - Wunder Train High-Rise Tight 25

Their signature in-house fabric is Luon, a silky soft blend that stretches four ways but recovers quickly to prevent pilling and stay squat-proof.

It has various strengths, from Seriously Light to Full-On Luon, each compressing differently.

You also have several other materials, from the luscious Luxtreme, which wears like a second skin, to Nulu, which prioritizes performance while delivering a next-to-nothing feeling with Lulu’s innovative Naked Sensation technology.

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Unlike Lulu, Fabletics, and many other athleisure brands, Zella does not have its own patented or proprietary fabrics for its apparel.

But this is not stopping this Nordstrom brand from dominating the leggings industry.

Zella vs Lululemon - Zella Scalloped Studio Lite 7:8 Leggings

Zella leggings are made from commonly found materials like polyester, spandex, and nylon for their various sportswear items.

For instance, their leggings are made from polyester and spandex, durable synthetic fabrics that withstand wear and tear and don’t often succumb to piling.

The spandex brings added strength and springiness!

Luxe Rib High Waist Leggings zella

For context, I’ve had my first pair of Zella Live In yoga leggings for over 3 years, and this bad boy is still going strong. I love the slimming effect of the figure-contouring waistband.

Zella’s sports bras are usually made from nylon, which tends to have a greater natural compression level and is more heat-resistant.

Ladies who suffer from underboob sweat can attest to how important that is!

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Fit and Sizing

Lululemon has improved its range of sizes in recent years; once, they only ran from 2-12.

Now, you can get most of their products between XXS and 4XL. This is great news for our plus-sized athletes reading – no more boring beige for you!

As for getting the right fit, they have a top tip for their Luon material. Once you put on your yoga pants, they have a completely matte finish.

What Size Lululemon Align Legging Should I Get?
Lululemon size chart

So, if you notice a light-reflecting sheen when worn, the fit is too tight. Not sure what I mean? Stretch the fabric widthways to get an idea of what this looks like.

They also offer a virtual shopping assistant service, so even if you can’t get to the store to try some items on, one of their educators can help you find the perfect fit, no matter the item.

Zella’s sizes are organized slightly more conscientiously – you can also get from XXS to 4XL in most of their items. AND Zella has a Petite and a Maternity section in women’s clothing to help those with different needs find a better fit.😍

Nordstrom Zella Size Chart
Zella Size Chart

You’ll also find they have a plus-size and a children’s range. Unlike Lulu, Zella is recommended for families of fitness fanatics and ladies looking to fit more comfortably into their gear (rather than getting the same in a bigger size).

In terms of fit, you’ll find the consensus is that everything is true to size for the most part, though some customers suggest that sizes can be generous.

My Zella Live In Leggings run true to size for me. However, if you prefer a snugger fit or a more contoured look, you might wish to size down one.


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Price Point

The distinct difference between Zella and Lululemon is their vastly different price points.

Don’t get me wrong, some of Zella’s products can certainly get up there and become a little expensive, but their starting prices are much more budget-friendly than Lululemon.

A roundup of the best Lululemon leggings of all time. From the best Lululemon leggings for every wear, crossfit, and running to the best Lululemon leggings for weightlifting, curvy babes, and working out.
Simple lounge style in my Lululemon Align pants

As I’ve already pointed out, you get what you pay for when you invest in a pair of Lululemon leggings or any of their items.

This is a staple wardrobe piece you can wear again and again for years to come – it’s worth spending some cash on.

TIP: Not in a hurry to buy? Wait for the annual Lululemon Black Friday sale or their highly-anticipated Lululemon Warehouse Sale to stock up on must-haves like the Lululemon Align and Lululemon Wunder Under leggings.

That being said, despite being more affordable, many gym bunnies swear by the quality of their Zella items. And I can attest to the quality of the Zella leggings I’ve owned over the past few years.

Zella vs Lululemon Leggings comparison
Another simple way to style these Zella leggings

Nordstrom is certainly known for providing a high-end shopping experience, so it’s to be expected that their sportswear follows suit. Price-wise, I feel Athleta leggings and Alo Yoga are the same.

TIP: Not in a hurry to buy? Wait for the Annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale or their semi-annual sale to score great savings on most Zella activewear, including my favorite legging and Nordstrom bestseller, Zella Live In High Waisted Leggings.

Zella vs Lululemon Bestsellers: Which Should I Get?

When it comes to Zella, they might not have the worldwide acclaim that Lulu does, but they have some best-selling, wide-reaching favorites. Here are just a few of their staple pieces:

  • Live In High Waist Leggings – $59
    • Constructed using a moisture-wicking, figure-sculpting fabric, plus a no-slip waistband, these leggings will help you stay cool no matter how sweaty a workout gets. Great for throwing on to head to the store, too, and available in several neutrals – a good staple. P.S.: This is my personal favorite!
  • Work For It Tank Top – $29
    • Staying stylish and comfortable is easy as pie in the Work For It tank, even if your workout is hardcore – designed with a cropped hem in a racerback style, the stretched-knit fabric wicks away sweat and offers more than enough breathability. Get it in black or some really cute shades of pink and purple!
  • Relaxed Long Sleeve Slub Jersey T-Shirt – $45
    • Everyone needs a chic after-workout shirt, and this flattering long-sleeved slub t-shirt is just what you’re looking for. Designed with a crewneck, this bad boy comes in variety of colors and a wide size range (XXS=00 to XXL=18).
  • Live In Pocket Joggers – $59
    • Melange-knit joggers in a highly versatile and flattering cut offer a slim profile and keep you cozy and comfortable whilst avoiding the baggy and boyish look (if that’s what you’re after, no shade!) – hitting the grocery store never looked so good!
  • Amazing Cozy Wrap Jacket – $89
    • This is another functional and stylish post-workout staple from Zella. A drape-front jacket in comfy fleece? Yes, please! It is 28 1/2″ in length, has a plush interior, and has a cuddly drawstring neckline.
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As you probably know, many Lulu products have superfans all over the world – today I thought I’d spotlight some items other than their leggings – though I have highlighted one pair… how could I not:

  • Free To Be Bra – Light Support – $48
    • With a gorgeous strappy open back, this is the perfect yoga bra: more than able to stretch, move, and open up alongside you, the slick low-friction support offered by their patented Luxtreme fabric will have you in a downward-facing dog whenever you get a chance!
  • Wunder Train High-Rise Tights 28” – $98
    • Constructed from their impressive, intense Everlux fabric, the Wunder Train tights are like the hardcore older sister of your Wunder Unders – incredibly breathable, sweat-wicking, and designed for training in their fastest drying formula ever.
  • Define Jacket Nulu – $118
    • Get that slim-fit jacket designed for any adventures you take! This fan-favorite has Thumbholes and Cuffins™ to keep sleeves down, and its elastic zipper pull even doubles as an emergency hair tie. No wonder it’s a fan favorite, am I right?
  • Align™ High-Rise Short 6″ – $64
    • Ready to keep you focusing on your strength rather than how much you’re sweating, the Nulu fabric is here to save the day. These four-way stretch shorts are ideal for your most intense workouts and won’t let you down or leave you feeling exposed.
  • Swiftly Tech Silverescent Seamless Racerback 2.0 Race Length – $58
    • Another tongue twister! An update to the Swiftly collection provides an improved fit and additional spandex in this racerback range. These are seamless, chafe-free, and will prepare you for serious training; you won’t want to wear anything else.
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FAQ: Lululemon vs. Zella Activewear

Are Zella leggings good?

Yes, Zella’s leggings are good. I’ve worn the same pair of leggings for over 6 years. There are no rips, tears, or peeling. I love it so much that I ordered two more pairs of Zella Live In High Waist leggings during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Which Lululemon leggings are the softest?

The softest Lululemon leggings are those made with their special Nulu fabric. The most popular Nulu fabric leggings are the Align™ High-Rise Ribbed PantAlign High Rise CropGroove Super-High-Rise Flared PantHigh-Rise Mini-Flared Pant, and Align Short 8″.

What are brands like Lululemon, but cheaper?

10 leggings brands similar to Lululemon include Yogalicious90 DegreesZellaQueeniekeAlo YogaTargetCRZ YogaGymsharkAthleta, and Fabletics.

Does Lululemon make Zella?

No, Zella is a Nordstrom workout brand available only on Nordstrom. Zella leggings are often compared to Lululemon yoga pants in quality, price, and overall value.

Conclusion: Lululemon vs Zella – Are They REALLY That Similar?

Like I said at the start, I love Zella and Lululemon. And I own some of their most-wanted leggings.

But if I could only pick one, my heart lies with Lulu in this one – the buttery-soft Align leggings are next to none.

However, my high-waisted Zella Live In leggings are too functional for a casual work style. I wore the outfit below to work!

Zella vs Lululemon Leggings for women
Wearing my Zella leggings as part of my casual work style

Sports fans looking for a more affordable alternative will be seriously impressed by Zella. Without fail, these Zella black leggings are where it’s at!

Similarly, those looking for a dedicated plus-sized collection or a range of kids’ sportswear will be disappointed by the lack of those at Lululemon and should hit up Nordstrom for great prices on Zella ASAP.

Imagine the matching outfits (mummy and me styles are in)!

However, I do have to say that Lulu has the upper hand in scientific fabric development, the wide variety of styles available, and the sheer amount of choice.

You could browse for hours and still find something brand new! Whichever brand you go for, I hope you look and feel fabulous! Until next time.

14 Comments

  1. I have a pair of Zella Live In leggings and love them!! I want to buy a new pair, but I’ve noticed that the recent reviews show that the style has changed. Have you bought this style this year? Mine are a couple of years old, and I noticed that the seaming along the back is different and that people are commenting in reviews on the Nordstrom site that not only have those seams changed, but also the weight and fit of these leggings too. Thanks!

    1. Hi Leslie, apologies for just getting to your comment. I haven’t gotten the newer versions of the Zella Live in Leggings, as mine are still holding up well. I got this Zella jogger a few months ago and haven’t had any quality issues. Sorry, I’m not much help. xo ~ Louisa

  2. Thanks for the review! We have a Lululemon store here, but I’ve never been. I may have to check their store one of these days and see the leggings for myself. 🙂

  3. Sounds like they both have ups and downs as most companies do. I really need some new leggings. I’d love to check them out from both companies.

  4. What a thorough comparison of the two brands. I’m saving this for my holiday shopping, I think all my daughters and daughters-in-laws would love more leggings.

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