Lululemon has become a recognized brand associated with yoga. This is unfortunate because of the many business practices they participate in are completely antithetical to yoga.
Lululemon was intended to be a chain of retail stores in Asia. Chip Wilson (Lululemon’s founder) chose the name because of the three L’s in the name. According to Wilson “It’s funny to watch them try and say it.” This is blatant racism.
The Lululemon empire is also known for promoting the work of Ayn Rand – an author that created an ethical philosophy known as ‘rational egoism’ or ‘rational selfishness’. This philosophy puts self-interest above morality, ethics, and altruism. It is also an ideology espoused by fascists and the far-right wing. This philosophy has also been adopted by the tea-party. Phrases taken from this literature are found on Lululemon shopping bags, and employees are encouraged to read these books. The Lululemon vision is “to elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness.” The underlying message is that you are mediocre.
Lululemon is also known to discriminate against bigger sizes, never stocking shelves with sizes larger than an 8, and only producing sizes up to 12 (size 14 is the national average).
Chip Wilson publicly made statements supporting child labor. He rationalized this by explaining that this would provide children with much needed income. The Lululemon response to the collective outrage of this stance was an ad with adults dressed as infants in an office. Many considered this outright mocking of child labor laws.
Lululemon claims to not use sweat shop labor, but, as of June 2013, many of the factories they employ have been engaged in labor disputes ranging from unfair pay, to safety issues. They recently increased the number of people they use to oversee factories. But not to ensure a living wage or safe work environment. Theses supervisors are there to maintain quality control of their product. They are there to make sure another ‘see-through pants scandal’ does to emerge. And yet, more complaints have just come forward regarding the quality of their product.
In October of 2013 they released a shopping bag with the word Brahmacharya printed upon it. The word itself was made up of junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs. The company claims it was an attempt to illustrate moderation. (Because, heroin is ok in moderation?) Lululemon was way off on both the message and the meaning of Brahmacharya.
Also in October of 2013 a store in Dallas, TX openly mocked a Domestic Abuse charity, during Domestic Violence Awareness month. Even though their customers are primarily women, Even though every 9 seconds a women is battered. Even though one in three women across the globe experiences domestic violence.
These are just a few examples of the corporate mindset at Lululemon.