Lululemon has introduced innovative products for women for over twenty years, with their focus now turning to women-specific footwear. The first of four new shoes is the Blissfeel running shoe.
This is a needed innovation. For the first time in history, in 2018 women outnumbered men in races; just over 50 percent of runners identified as female, up from below 20% in 1986 (Livestrong, 2022) (Find more running statistics at https://www.livestrong.com/article/13730338-running-statistics/ )
Most shoes have been designed for elite male athletes, yet women differ from men in where the foot strikes the ground and center of gravity. For example, women runners tend to have more upper body rotation and ankle flexion moving through the stride.
Blissfeel is the result of analyzing women’s biomechanics and neurophysiology, basing shoe design on millions of foot scans and the feedback from three rounds of wear-testing. The goal was to create a shoe that would fit and feel amazing on a wide range of runners, as opposed to tailoring the shoe to a specific type of runner or workout.
The outcome?—Yes, please.
The fit is snug and supportive, and the sole unit provides a wide base and a very smooth roll forward with exceptional grip. Its comfort makes it a great shoe for casual wear—but it’s too quality of a running shoe to categorize it as such.
Regarding the steady base of Blissfeel it compares with the HOKA Gaviota and the Brooks Transcend 6 (I have yet to run in the latest iteration now named Glycerin GTS).
The Launch GTS has a very similar, smooth ride; less cushion; and a slightly less-secure upper lock-down. These changes explain the Launch GTS being just over 2 ounces lighter per shoe. The propulsion at toe-off is most apparent in the Blissfeel, yet the lighter weight of GTS Launch brings the benefit about even.
I find Launch GTS to be moderately stable with Blissfeel offering more of a base beneath the foot, particularly noticeable in the heel. Blissfeel has a snug, secure midfoot lock down with arching support strips and more material whereas the thinner GTS 9 leaves slight space. The more padded tongue of Blissfeel prevents the hot spots felt when dialing in the midfoot fit of GTS.
Blissfeel costs $148 USD and comes in ten colorways. Keep your eyes peeled for three more women’s shoes to drop from Lululemon this year—Chargeful the brand’s cross-training feature will be released soon—followed by a men’s collection to be revealed in 2023.
Lululemon Blissfeel First Impressions
I was intrigued from the moment I laid eyes on this shoe because this brand is new to the running shoe scene, because I was skeptical of the “boomerang wings” towards the heel, and due to bold curiosity about a completely unknown midsole.
My first steps in Blissfeel revealed a buttery-smooth roll into toe-off. It was so remarkable I thought this may be due to a high drop, like in the women’s ASICS Gel-Kayano which had a 13 mm. drop compared to the men’s 10 mm. for years (they’ve now corrected this to 10 mm. across the line in the Kayano 28).
A too-high drop puts increased pressure on the ball of my foot, so I was happy to find that Blissfeel is reported to have a 9.5 mm. drop.
The quick roll off the toes is due to the overall design as opposed to the drop, and I did not notice a hot spot below the ball of my foot as I did in older Kayano models. Perhaps those extra “boomerang” pieces tie the heel more closely to the midfoot and are one reason for the exceptional ride.
Lululemon Blissfeel Sole Unit
“Supple” is a word I have never used before this review. It came to mind to describe the cushion of Blissfeel.
The definition for supple is “bending and moving easily and gracefully, flexible; it can mean “soft.” All of this is true of the Blissfeel ride despite the midsole not being flexible in the traditional sense.
The midfoot is moderately stiff — think GT-2000 level support — yet the feel is “supple” underfoot and quick into toe-off.
Lululemon remains protective about its midsole material, not leaking information about its blend or even a special name for it. Grabbing summer footwear yesterday I noticed that the feel underfoot in Blissfeel is strikingly similar to what I experience going barefoot in New Balance 200 Slides — an extra-special treat for my feet that I “splurged” on with my half marathon age – group prize money from a local running store in 2020. I truly feel the same wow-factor in Blissfeel. New Balance simply calls their sole a “Plush footbed” in an EVA ground-contact carrier.
What Blissfeel and the recovery sandal share is a perfectly soft feel without being squishy. They seem firm but at the same time inviting.
The drop is 9.5 mm. with a stack height of 32.5, yet the forefoot has a surprisingly connected ground feel.
Removing the sock liner there is no dip below the ball of my foot with over 80 miles on the shoe which bodes well for a long life from this midsole.
The outsole offers exceptional grip with a heel landing pad separated from a larger section of rubber running laterally up to cover the bulk of the forefoot, and smaller segments under the toes and midfoot. Each rubber piece is segmented by lines running vertically and horizontally and is covered by additional “polka dots” that stick out slightly for added grip.
Now with approximately 80 miles on the shoe my wear pattern on these dots reveals significant wear on my lateral heel moving to centered wear towards the ball into medial wear halfway through the toes that’s (surprisingly) followed by an apparent mid-lateral toe-off.
Perhaps this is due to a semi-curved last which makes a center toe-off appear lateral underfoot? While I try to figure that pattern out, go ahead and run in these yourself to see what they reveal about your movement through foot plant!
Lululemon Blissfeel Upper Unit
Blissfeel takes a surprising approach to a heel counter. Did you, like me, wonder if the boomerang-shaped wing on both sides of the back of the shoe were purely decorative?
Examining the shoe I find that there’s no internal heel counter in the very back of the heel. The semi-stiff pleather is, however, bordered by the wings of those boomerangs which happen to make a sufficiently solid heel counter that also secures a firm connection between heel and midfoot, aiding the ride that I so appreciate in this shoe.
The designers succeeded: Blissfeel fits like it was made for my foot! The moderately breathable double-layer mesh hugs my midfoot and then relaxes to accommodate widening at the ball. It turns out that this shape is more common of a woman’s foot, I found while researching for this shoe. ASICS is the other brand I’ve found to fit well in this regard.
The difference from a typical ASICS fit is that Blissfeel offers a slightly more roomy toebox—but not too much space for those who like a shallow fit.
Support strips reminiscent of On Cloudace and some adidas models curve vertically up the shoe right below the ball where my foot narrows into midfoot.
The support strips curve up to include the middle two eyelets (of 6) on each side, then continue in a diagonal back to the center of the “boomerang” heel counter/connection piece.
Directly above the diagonal strip a smooth bulge of padding circles the ankle opening outside the shoe and extends into a wider cushion inside the ankle opening.
I would prefer a lower cut and a softer opening at the top of the ankle. The stiff material right at the top cut into my ankle at points until I redid the lacing to end through the second hole.
This is not something I typically experience and something the brand should modify in a second model. By not using the top laces hole I was able to alleviate most of the irritation.
This lacing leaves already-long laces even longer, and I typically double or triple knot both string and loop to reduce flapping.
The tongue is as thin as that of Brooks Launch GTS right at the top but quickly transitions to a soft pad that protects the foot from tight laces. The tongue connects to the base inside the shoe on either side, reminiscent of Saucony’s ISOFIT upper.
Blissfeel’s tongue is a perfect cross between the plush, connected ISOFIT tongue and Nike’s neoprene-wrap version in the original Odyssey React. It protects the foot and keeps the tongue in place at the expense of heat attenuation and added weight.
The upper at the tip of the toe is protected by a thin support strip that favors the inside of the point of the toe.
All together it holds my foot perfectly secure and fits true to size.
The sock liner is pretty standard except for added structure under the arch. This makes for the medium-low padding I feel under my arches.
Below the insole (sock liner) are circle cut-outs in a thin layer above the midsole, which I’ve only seen before in Nike Odyssey React and some HOKA models. Perhaps this is to lower the weight ever-so-slightly or to enhance a soft feel. If you know the reason for these cut-outs, please let me know in the comments.
Lululemon Blissfeel Conclusion
Lululemon wins 10/10 on a smooth ride and on meeting their goal of comfort and versatility underfoot and 9/10 on a secure, comfortable upper due to a snug fit but a rough edge around the ankle.
My favorite part of this shoe is how seamlessly it rolls into toe-off.
Lululemon took a new approach to a heel counter that appears to have the dual function of aiding the transition, maxed out on outsole material, and focused on feel rather than a specific function (beyond being suited for running, of course).
I look forward to seeing what the brand’s three options (for general workouts, strength training, and recovery) are like as well as what modifications they make to the second edition of Blissfeel.
The careful attention to actual women’s feet and biomechanics together with listening well to prototype feedback resulted in a stellar first shoe from Lululemon. Men, keep Lululemon on your radar for 2023 as they plan to expand into a men’s line.
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Lululemon Blissfeel at Lululemon with our own money.