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Four months after becoming an ad industry recession stat last year, I found myself in a job that was in many ways far better and more fulfilling than my last. I'm making less money now, and I'm in a less senior position. But instead of my work being used to sell cars, computers or potato chips, it's being used to help nonprofit clients become better agents of social change. This recession has helped me reexamine what's important to me, and rediscover some things I'd lost. Now I just keep finding more.

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MARCH 31, 2009 12:00PM

Why I dislike Lululemon more than ever

Rate: 35 Flag


Lululemon is pop culture’s answer to wearable spirituality. You don’t have to be spiritual. You don’t even have to do yoga. Pull on a $200+ Lululemon yoga outfit and voila – you’re surrounded by an aura of faux enlightenment that Lululemon parades on its shopping bags with its "manifesto" which is really just a random collection of sayings like:

“The pursuit of happiness is the source of all unhappiness.”

"That which matters most should never give way to that which matters least.”

Or this rather strangely-worded one that gives me the creeps:

"Children are the orgasm of life. Just like you did not know what an orgasm was before you had one, nature does not let you know how great children are until you actually have them.”

(Want to read them all? Here you go. They’re proudly displayed on their website.)

There’s something about self-promoting nuggets of packaged insight on the side of a shopping bag that turns my stomach. It’s just over-priced clothing, okay? But clearly, it's much more according to founder Chip Wilson.

The self-important founder over-impressed with himself

In explaining the formation of Lululemon, Wilson talks about the pill, women’s lib, super-women trying to do it all, superheros, breast cancer and another generation of women freed to be themselves. He concludes with this statement, “Ultimately, Lululemon was formed because female education levels, breast cancer, yoga/athletics and the desire to dress feminine came together all at one time.”

This final sentence follows some of the worst dribble I’ve ever read masquerading as social science commentary. It’s remarkable to think that the man who espouses this also built a company that now has more than 100 outlets and $340 million in annual revenue. Then again, Jerry Falwell and Ted Haggard also built great financial empires.

The corporate hypocrisy

Everyone knows Lululemon costs more than yoga wear needs to cost. Maybe giving away all this free spiritual advice is why the clothes cost so damn much.

It couldn’t be the actual cost to make them.

Seventy percent of their clothing is manufactured in third-world countries with factories in China, Taiwan, South Korea, South America, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Lululemon website explains, “Global economic forces…have shifted manufacturing to more cost-attractive locations and resulted in closures of some domestic factories.”

The truth according to Lululemon is evidently a Rashemon-like multi-versioned thing. On the one hand, Lululemon stands for values like spirituality, fairness, and freedom. On the other hand, a buck’s a buck.

Their stated mission is: “To elevate the world from mediocrity to a place of greatness.” I wonder if the children and adults working in the Thai and Vietnamese factories are rising above their own mediocrity to new levels of greatness. Or displaced Canadian and American workers for that matter.

Placing importance on something that isn’t important

I do yoga off and on. I’m not a purist in any way. When I do it, I love it. When I don’t do it for a stretch (pardon the pun), I don’t. But one of the things I love about yoga is that it takes me away from the commercial world that Lululemon is smack in the centre of. For an hour and a half, the world outside stops. And at the risk of sounding all terribly new agey, I feel grounded, calm and in touch with a sense of myself that I often lose during the daily acts of hurried living. And I could care less about my clothes.

In genuine yoga culture, it doesn’t matter what you wear. And I’ve seen people wear shorts and sweat pants and yoga pants and pj bottoms and ordinary t-shirts.

My last true vacation was a little over a year ago (the last one I’ll have for a while) and was spent at a yoga retreat in the mountains of Colorado. I went for a much-needed time out, and for five days, I spent my time doing yoga and meditation, taking walks and reading. I was up at 5 or 5:30 each morning and in bed by 9. I ate very healthy. I wore not a stitch of make-up. I wore my hiking clothes during the day and my $30 yoga pants in class. And I don’t think I saw any Lululemon the whole time.

Remember one of those lines from the shopping bag? “That which matters most should never give way to that which matters least.”

The kicker: firing someone for not being Lululemon enough. Aka the right shape.

Now everything I’ve written up to this point I’ve known for a while. But nothing made me feel a stronger dislike for Lululemon than learning about an experience that a friend of one of my son’s had.

She got a job working at the local Lululemon store, but later lost it. The reason given? As a young woman on the larger side of average, she wasn’t a good representative of the Lululemon physical ideal. I was shocked. You'd think an organization spouting words like "Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself" would have a more inclusive approach to hiring than Abercrombie & Fitch.

Chip Wilson, what about namaste don’t you understand?


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All that glitters is not zinc.
Oh, please, give me five measly minutes with this guy...

I haven't heard of this vile crap before. Even though I expect us to become more and more disconnected with reality as a society, it's still shocking to see.

And why doesn't the fucker "do something today that scares him" and re-open a domestic factory? I got other words to say -most of them of the four letter type.
I've never stepped into a Lululemon and I sure won't now.

BTW, Thailand is not the same as Taiwan. I'm not sure where you get "Thaiwanese" from.
I've never heard of Lululemon before and I sure won't ever shop there for anything now! Corporate hypocrisy parading as feel good mysticism. Yuck. If there was justice in this world your post would go viral and they would see the error of their ways for firing your friend because she wasn't skinny enough.
Yikes - LuckySweetheart. Good eye. Where's a good proofer when you need one. (Fixed and thanks.)
A friend who is a therapist was very angry about the "Children are the orgasm of life" thing because she works with victims of childhood sexual abuse and was involved with a partner who suffered that. So she tried to talk to people in the local Lululemon store about it. And they acted like idiots, including saying that the owner (I guess this Chip Wilson guy) wrote all that stuff -- that is, they said this in tones of, "Well, this comes from God!" And looked at her like "who could question this?"

So she wrote a letter to the corporate headquarters. I can't recall the details but they sent her some sort of similar reply basically saying how wonderful these ideas were, rather than in any way acknowledging much less addressing her complaint.

I don't do yoga and avoid anything trendy esp in fashion, so I'd never shop there anyway, but after hearing all this I went from ignoring them to having very negative feelings towards them every time I pass their store.

I also know someone who worked there and was quite into their philosophy for a while until she realized that they took real advantage of her an employee. She quit and immediately (the same day) got a better retail job elsewhere.
Well this stirred up some strong emotions in me. Last year, the Boulder Lulemon store plastered the "Children are the orgasm of life"on their store front. I was shaking when I called them to talk to the manager. I tried to explain calmly that I was a family therapist and that the last thing that needed to be linked to children was the word "orgasm". Please people! Can we just let children be children. I love my children but there's no way in hell I associate them with physical pleasure resulting in orgasm. I've worked with enough sexually abused children now adults to know that this kind of grab your attention marketing ploy is destructive and harmful. I'm happy to say they removed it immediately. But that was only one store. Great post from someone who works in the business. Thank you.
I had no idea. I've patronized their stores, but won't anymore. The CEO is a buffoon.
I read a profile of Chip Wilson and Lululemon in a flight magazine during a trip. It was one of the most bizarre articles I've read -- especially considering that it was in a magazine meant to appeal to such a broad audience.

He is a former athlete (football, I think) and after selling his previous athletic clothing company (board shorts, etc.), he took up yoga. Appalled by the horrible clothing he was forced to look at during his classes, he began Lululemon to help solve that problem.

When asked why the name "Lululemon" he "jokingly" answered that it was because it was funny to hear Japanese people try to pronounce it.

So, as disturbing as some of the more recent statements are, they are slightly more sophisticated than the early ones.
OK, maybe I'm just a really really bad person, but I laughed when I read that an overpriced yoga pants store painted the slogan "Children are the orgasm of life" on the sign out front.

Immediately what popped into my head was Michael Palin singing "You don't have to be a six-footer/ You don't have to have a great brain/ You don't have to have any clothes on/ You're a Catholic the moment Dad came/ Beee---caaauuuse...Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great..."
Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. Oh, I have stories about this company and their bloody propaganda.
Yoga is for every BODY, every size, every shape, every age and it can be done-- should be done-- in the oldest, softest, most worn clothing you have. Wear your p.j.s.
Yoga is about "union", uniting with other souls, reawakening to the glorious union of your own, mind, body and soul.
Ohhhhhh, how unhappy luluemon makes me. Don't get me started on Bikram.
This store started in Vancouver and I remember when they opened their first one. I lived in the trendy area and went down to check it out. I was pretty shocked at the prices, even for over-priced Vancouver, but Chip seemed like a friendly guy and their clothes were cute.

Fast-forward a couple of months. I spend $100 on a pair of yoga pants, $75 on hoodie, and $50 on a skimpy workout top. I was making good money, so I rationalized the cost. I had a problem with the pants and hoodie and tried to take them back. The staff weren't as friendly, and Chip was nowhere to be seen. After enduring attitude that would make a C-list celebrity look modest, I got them to give me a store credit. I got a similar outfit, but it was a lot uglier and I never wore it much. Since then, that one store morphed into an empire. Lululemon is practically a religion with a certain type of affluent Yuppie in these parts.

Some things to consider: Chip pushes Landmark Education on his employees. Anybody who wants to get ahead in the company had better take it. That makes me not want to patronize Lululemon all by itself. He left his wife of many years for one of his young, nubile employees. There's lots more, but I don't want to get sued.
Mission statement: "Creating components for people to live a longer, healthier, more fun life."

Meaning: We sell clothes.

oh, brother.
The fact that it is overpriced faux-spiritual trendy hippie-wear marketed to affluent yuppies has been enough always make me roll my eyes when I've heard about Lululemon.
What a bunch of harpies putting down the free enterprise system, men, children and real women, not to speak of badly needed Yoga for health which Lululemon, thank God encourages.

Lululemon supplies, not only desperately needed public encouragement of fitness, but jobs for starving Third World people, mostly women, and jobs here at home for poor, mostly women, employees in their stores.

What in the world is wrong with you people, anyway? Would we had a hundred Lululemon companies. All of you sound like grumpy Socialist Obama Democrats that will turn this recession into a 10 year depression exactly the way FDR did.

I'd never heard of Lululemon, but it's nice to know some specifics abotu an evil company. The thing that surprises me most about his blog, though, is to read the comments and see that my automatic asssumption that any company using spirtuality, enviromentalism, or other high-minded principles to sell high priced fashion (or any other status symbol) is obviously more hypocritical than your average soulless corporation isn't the norm.
Basically this guy didn't like to see overweight women in pajama bottoms at his yoga class so he started slapping pseudo-philosophical slogans on yoga pants and hoodies and charging a premium? And he is making an empire? I have never heard of this company before but this guy sounds like a tool. I am not anti-capitalist though. If people spend money on what he offers, so be it. I am glad to avoid it.
thanks fired.

You said what I've wanted to say but with a lot less anger. My gripe is not with lululemon but with corporate greed gone wild and those that I know and love that make lot's of money, as a result, have a sweet lifestyle and seemed to have sold their souls getting it.

It's been sad to watch. Sad to slowly lose the connection to a good person. It'll be sad to watch when they are too old to keep up the hype.

Yoga helps!
Silkstone & Marytkelly: I knew the child line didn't sit right but your comments give structure to why. It's really disappointing that head office, and the people in it, find the kool-aid they're drinking so powerful they can't hear the sense in the feedback. Wow.
Children are the orgasm of life?? Obviously the person who said this never took a really big shit.
As for the "Children or the Orgasm of life" when explained it makes sense, but, from a purely marketing stand point connecting the word children to anything sexual works as a very big negative because most will not read beyond the headline. You would think a company like Lululemon would understand that in our PC culture, one misspoken word can cause a public outcry requiring thousands in damage control just to get back to zero.

I can understand trying to attach an aura of something to their produce, because when all is said and done it is just overpriced exercise wear. Unfortunately it seems that equating shopping with spirituality speaks to how shallow this country can be sometimes.
I'm going to go throw up now.
Thank you for posting this.

I am a yoga teacher and I've been practicing yoga for close onto 20 years now.

When I started, it really was a "hippie" kind of thing to do. I always crack up about how the first yoga workshop I attended was held at a house with the yoga room upstairs. People left their shoes at the bottom of the stairs. ALL of the shoes except mine were Birkenstocks. That was actually funnier back when wearing Birkenstocks wasn't cool like it is now.

So, I've watched yoga explode over the years. I've watched it be marketed to death. Even Absolut vodka has a yoga based ad. I've seen the new students coming in decked out in new gear, new mats, etc. and adopting all these attitudes they admire but in a surreal, commercial way.

But, the real work of yoga? Do they do that?

I've come to peace with it. People admire yogis and they want to emulate their discipline and attitude. It doesn't stop me from doing my own thing. And nowadays there's a lot more choices on yoga mats whereas back in the day there were almost none.

Don't buy lulemon if it disturbs you. Wear what makes you feel comfortable inside and out. Sit down, meditate, breathe, do poses. Be what they want to buy.
I pretty much ignore their slogans and stuff, and I do wish that their stuff was cheaper, but...

I love every piece of yoga clothing that I have purchased there. I am 6'4" and a little overweight. Yoga has been a huge part of my weight loss/sanity program, and it is very hard to find FUNCTIONAL clothing for yoga for someone my size anywhere else.

By functional, I mean 'doesn't show my belly/junk to everyone and doesn't cause me to drown in sweat while at the same time allowing freedom of movement needed for yoga.' My closet is full of stuff that I have tried and they just didn't work.

I HATE choking on basketball shirts, or having large baggy shorts trip me up.

So psuedo-spirituality and overpriced "image crap" aside, the clothes are awesome for their intended use and I will continue to buy them there since I can't find comparable elsewhere.
Please see my blog post for a GREAT alternative:
If "friends are more important than money" then why is Lululemon charging so much for their clothes? LOL.

And a quick comment: "Seventy percent of their clothing is manufactured in third-world countries with factories in China, Taiwan, South Korea, South America, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam." Israel is actually counted among first-world, not third-world countries.

Rated. Thanks!
Charles: I've seen other people speak highly about the clothing itself and I'm glad you found something that works. I just wish their marketing focused on the the product and its benefit without co-opting important values.

Buzz: Thank so much for the tip (p.s. the link is broken so I just clicked on your name.)

Cleo: For sure, Israel counts as an industrialized nation -- I simply included all the locations of factories listed on their site.

M Todd: for someone in advertising, I'm the least likely 'target' to want to align myself with a brand. I've never understood why people want to wear logos on their shirts in order to demonstrate their own value or identity (what tribe they belong to). Last year I bought prescription sunglasses and I ended up making my decision by the brand that didn't have a big honkin' logo on the arm. It was hard!
Wonderful post.
But - the graphic (which is probably looneylemon's intent) steals from Dr. Bronner's.
Dr. Bronner's products have always had those labels, and no matter what you think of the fine print, it's what Dr. Bronner himself said many a moon ago.
Dilute! Rinse! Repeat! OK!
It makes me even MORE infuriated that this ugly little company still exists.
(Although I totally get what Charles B. is saying. And I think we should "liberate" the merchandise for him.)
I've never even heard of it until today, which is surprising as I live in LaLa land In Mass. - where a yoga mat is an everyday accessory.

I'm picketing; I'm sending all my yogi/yoga type friends this info. Kripalu is nearby - I'll alert them.

The greatest benefit I ever get from yoga is my own full body acceptance. The wonders of how I CAN move and stretch and be.

Landmark Est dude can take his merchandise and sit on it, forever. In wahtever pose he wants.
I feel a rant coming on.
You do realize that the vast majority of those lines (but not the "orgasm" one) are from ye olde "Wear Sunscreen" screed, right?

I actually liked Baz Luhrmann's mix of that one, though I also recommend "The Sunscreen Marketing Board" from Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie .
There is some kind of link between Lululemon and Landmark Forum. Landmark Forum is a self help "encounter group" that used to be called EST. Those of us who are old enough probably remember EST. Anyway, the founder of Lululemon apparently requires all their mangers to attend Landmark Forum seminars. He is a Landmark Forum devotee. Seems like a cult to me. That's one reason why I don't shop there and never will.
My rant about Lululemon may be found here:

I think people in advertising tend to get jaded. Myself ,so much of my work focus on aligning benefits with the right market, I tend to shop that way as well.

I am a sucker for functional design, but have little need for fashion based on its own merits. I will not go out of my way to not purchase something with a logo on it, but it has to be worth the money without the logo before I will purchase.
Ick. To Lululemon, who I've never heard of, but I don't think I'll go looking for them. Besides, I'm anti-trendy. Fortunately for me.
When I go to yoga class, I usually wear a t-shirt tucked into old gray sweatpants. Not enormously sexy, but the room is dark. I'm certainly not watching anyone but the instructor and I hope no one's watching me. Can't imagine how Lululemon makes downward dog any more downward.
So, a company employs high-minded platitudes as a means to drive up business? And? 'Fired' you worked in advertising, you were part of the machine, and now you feel the need to get righteous? Companies exploit, they use provocative advertising to get attention...welcome to the world.

Someone else here commented on how "evil" Lululemon is...give your head a shake. It's business...don't anthropomorphize.

And making comments about the CEO, who cares? So, the guy dumped his wife in favor of one a younger "employee"...s*it happens. Maybe the guy is a heel, but sounds like he's running a fairly successful business fooling people into buying clothing nowhere near the price on the label. So?

It's fine to chastise something or someone you disagree with - don't buy his product - don't visit his store(s); but drop the naive indignation, and faux astonishment that manipulative advertising practices coupled with exploitative employment policies are Lululemon's exclusive dominion.
Modern day Pharisees. Posers. Morons. Good post.
Rafielz: I don't recall ever insinuating that these practices were the exclusive domain of Lululemon. Hmmm...where do I begin?

And you just reminded me I need to update my bio. I get to hold my head up again after 12 years in the ad business.

I started out as a journalist, sold my soul post-divorce for better pay to raise 3 kids on my own -- and this last lay-off was really what everyone hopes for: a better door opening.

I've recently accepted a position at a social marketing agency: meaning the clients I work on are all non-profit, charities, foundations and gov't agencies. I am thrilled, happy, and, once again, full of piss and vinegar.
Fired: Congratulations, first of all, on your new job; I had the opportunity a number of years ago to work in a similar capacity providing graphic design and marketing services for non-profit businesses and it was incredibly rewarding. I wish you all the best. As to the post and comments, I have strong misgivings about any entity that provides people with pre-packaged, commodified access to what I refer to as "spiritualicity" (a term stolen from one of my favorite movies). Both Landmark and Lululemon quite frankly gross me out. But there's an ass for every chair, and I can't begrudge people something that works for them as long as they know when to keep it to themselves. Rated for making me think about the state of my own integrity and spiritual housekeeping.

I work in advertising and despite the cliche there are a lot of honest and truthful people in the business. I care about my clients and the product they sell.

I have turned away business from companies that have products or services that would compromise my moral beliefs. If I can't believe in the product I can't sell it to the public. Good advertising is communication that motivates and persuades the buyer of the value of the product. It is not trickery.

If I were to guess about 20% of the advertising out their is untrue or stretches the truth, 40% is just dull or stupid, 30% is effective and 10% is genius. The Lululemon from my estimation falls in the 40% group, but then again I don't buy Yoga wear and their approach may be spot on.
mTodd -- Thanks for speaking up on behalf of the ad community. I have met and worked with some wonderful, caring, creative -- and ethical -- people in this business, and I probably tried to shove the whole lot under the bus in my remarks.

That said, I've always carried discomfort about it and I'm grateful that I have an opportunity to step away from selling cars, computers and soda now . But that's just me -- as we all know, selling these material goods is vital to our current economic crisis. And who knows? I may be there again.

Also -- great categorical breakdown. Quite succinct , as always from you!

80% of our clients are B2B clients so most of our creative efforts are directed towards CEOs, engineers and other professionals who tend to be logical. Even though I don't work on package goods or retail the fundamentals are the same.

Maybe Lululemon has tapped into the need of its clients to feel spiritual about the brands they purchase. This may seem strange to me as a baby boomer, but more generation Xers tie their core values to brand identity and products than past generations. They may not give money to charity, but they will spend extra for products that display a higher degree of environmental and community activism.

There is a book I think the title is The Business of Doing Good that discusses how people respond to companies that are good global and community partners.
Fired and mTodd...

I was wrong to say what I said in my previous post, and I'm sorry. I was angry about something else, and speaking out of turn. Hope you'll accept my apology. I'll send each of you a message as well stating same, in case you don't see this. In the future I'll stick to talking about subjects on which I actually have some knowledge.
Another sad example of a mega corp cashing in on the trent towards health & wellness. Everyone is trying to go yoga and green to attract consumers. Yep, pseudo-namaste indeed.
I'm from Vancouver, the birth place of lululemon so I know quite a lot about the company and have followed them since they were just one small store. I'm good friends with both the yoga community in Vancouver as well as many people who have worked at lululemon at one time or another.

Not only has Chip Wilson done a lot for the yoga community on a whole, but he also gives a lot back to the global community. He recently gave $10 million of his personal money to children in need in Africa and he has started a local charity race for the Children's Hospital ( He also empowers his employees at lululemon to set personal goals and with the help of lululemon the staff are given the tools to achieve their goals. How many companies can you think of that want their staff to follow their dreams, even if it's not in line with the company they work for?

Their Manifesto is meant to empower those who read it. I'm guessing that you were hoping to confuse your readers by only quoting the sections that you didn't understand or personally connect with yourself. Perhaps with another read you will find deeper meaning in their words?

As for out of country factories I'm a huge supporter of Canadian made products and do what I can to only buy local. But even so, many of my purchases are made in other parts of the world. I'm pretty sure that while you are all hate for the fact that they produce overseas, you likely have more than a few purchases that are not made in the USA (or Canada if that's where you come from?). Is someone forgetting to walk the talk? I also love how you feel free to throw the word "children" when referring to their factories. Yes, there are many large American companies that seem to continue to be foolish enough to not keep their overseas factories up the up and up, but I think that you would be hard pressed to find any children working in of lululemons factories.

And why are you complaining about the cost? It seems as though you have found a pair of $30 yoga pants that you are happy with, just as I'm happy doing yoga in a old T-Shirt. But if you are one of those people who don't like to wear old shirts or your $30 yoga pants and by not doing so they may not be introduced to yoga then is it not better to have something for them to wear to class? Not only that, but lululemon's pants look really great so most people don't just wear them for yoga, but they wear them every wear and all the time. So are you getting a better deal for your pants that you only wear to yoga which sounds like it's only a few hours a week at best or is the lululemon customer getting the better deal because they have something that looks great that they wear all the time? I'm guessing the answer is in the later of the two options no?

I know that regardless of size or shape, many of the people that have worked at lululemon have consisted of all shapes and sizes. As for your friend's daughter who was laid off from lululemon I can't say what exactly happened? I'm into snowboarding, so if I had a snowboard store I would want my staff to be passionate about snowboarding. Perhaps it was not that your friend was portly, but perhaps she just lacked the passion for what the brand represents? Does she love to practice and talk about yoga? Does she love wearing lululemon and know all about the product?

At the end of the day, Lululemon makes great looking athletic wear. If by putting on a piece of lululemon one is inspired to be more active, do yoga, or even feel as they are in some way associated to the yoga community I think that they have done a great job. There will always be those who want to be elite and don't like the idea of the world jumping on their band wagon, but in my books, the more people that do yoga the better and if wearing lululemon inspires people to do just that they right on!
Do you have sources on some of the things you are saying here? I am not here to stand up for corporations, trust me, but you're saying that they use sweat shops and other crap. Just wondering if this is based on fact and if so what is your source?

Do you wear any other clothing (athletic or otherwise) that costs more than $30? Or is that your threshold? Just curious so that we have perspective on why $200 seems like a lot to you to buy for athletic gear. I mean, sure you don't need it, but who ever said you do? Some people like Lululemon and if you saw someone at your retreat wearing a pair of their pants or sporting an expensive yoga mat (that cost $80+) what would be the big deal?

It's one thing if you're banning all clothing companies that have shipped manufacturing overseas and charge $200 for quality clothing, but have you? Or for some reason are you extra hard on Lululemon because they are branding themselves as "enlightened". Lucy yoga clothing is just as expensive! And the quality isn't as high a lot of the time.

They do have high quality clothing. It does cost money to create the fabrics, etc. When I look at clothing in ANY yoga boutique, it is as high as Lululemon, if not higher. Sure, we could all go to Old Navy and get their line of yoga clothes, but then we'd all look like each other and the clothes would wear out after about 1 month of wear. I've had some Lululemon yoga pants for 5+ years that still look brand new! (I also have Danskin yoga pants that were just as expensive that didn't last that long!)

You can't on one hand complain about high cost yoga clothing and then complain about manufacturing costs. You do have to pay a little higher for clothing manufactured in the USA. I know of several yoga clothing (and other clothing) manufacturers in China that are NOT sweat shop.
Mr Fox:

Oh! How well researched of you - lululemon provides goal coaching for (and I quote you) "staff to follow their dreams, even if it's not in line with the company they work for".

Let the alarm bell sound "BAAAAAAAAP!" for WRONG!

I worked for them, and one of the last unpleasant newsbreaks I had to endure was the announcement that they are firing all staff at another local store that don't have aspirations of managing their own store one day in their goals. (and these employees LIVE for the brand, they aren't dead-weights, they just have college part time or other careers in mind in years to come.)

How's that for the caring and considerate picture you paint lululemon an employer to be?

Every person hired by lululemon is casual (except Store Mangers) this is brilliantly worked so that firing can be done without any notice whatsoever. They may work full time (and I mean FULL TIME. Not a 'Rostered Day Off' went by without me being disturbed by phone at least twice, not to mention long evenings closing the store but staying back hours extra because they want you do to things that aren't in your job description. They don't have specialised Visual Merchandisers, In-Store Inventory Planners & Graphic Designers for the work that must get done on a daily basis. If you take the role of what they chirpily call "educator" aka sales assistant, you become all of these things eventually and more, whether you want to progress to that level of responsibilty or not. Might I add for the same pay.

The whole company relies on eliciting a worshipping attitude, preying on wholesome, honest people to run about, tearing their hair out to appease the pompous demands of over-night managers made self-important by thrusting information from the likes of self help books (that are absolute required reading) into their hot little powerful hands with this INSANE thought structure drummed into them in cult-like precision of "elevating the world from mediocrity.

You know what's mediocre? OVER WORKED, UNDER PAID, BULLSH*T SPIRITUALITY sold for a hefty price tag. Another damned hollywood-esque gimmick, forged by making people attend landmark or they will not find themselves in the company (citing termination for many I've known over the years as, "doesn't fit the lululemon mold").

This isn't a case of business. From the outside it looks like saavy business and because idiots keep getting suckered in, it IS a saavy business. If it looks like a cult and quacks like a cult it usually is, so the saying goes? So if it isn't why can so many who haven't even dealt with the brand (in terms of business) smell the cheese factor? Why can't we see where there is smoke there is fire?

Oh! because you don't care! I remember. This world lives by 'all for one and one all for themselves'.

I quit this job (much to my managers dismay as she would have to train two people to be able to cover the amount of work I had to complete by myself) and it is dangerous and I'll tell you why.

It preys on people who want to make a difference. It seeks out the type that genuinely cares. It creates a level of expectation that is most definitely unattainable. Then as this poor well-meaning person scrambles to meet what they call the dreaded 'by-whens' (landmark talk for all you out there that haven't spent the $600 to attend) and it cannot be done, you are punished with derogatory talk about your performance not only in a work sense but also as an individual. (On one occasion when I forgot to take a letter with me to post when I left work one afternoon, I was straight-out accused of having no integrity as a person. No joke. One little letter, one mistake = no integrity in this life I've been building.)
I have seen amazing, self-less individuals run themselves into the ground for this consumer giant only to have every other aspect of their lives crumble beneath them creating waves of depression in other wise capable, talented and beautiful human beings. They get lulled into a sense of not what is do-able but rather, everything is do-able that they require and what you can't complete is merely a failure on your part. Each instance I have assured them, "you need to remember for the duration you are here that these are JUST CLOTHES. We are not curing cancer, we are selling clothes, and ones that are not even needed for their purpose" to try to bring them out of psychomania and down to good old reality.

Many a time I have come in contact with employees that sight crying a daily after work ritual as the pressure is just too much.

Another girl I worked with was fired although she was fantastic at the rest of the job, she expressed that she physically couldn't attend the required "one yoga class per week" (as part of marketing for the brand) as she had chronic fatigue syndrome. How's that for backing their employees?

I agree with you Mr Fox that anything that incites exercise (especially yoga) in this day and age is something positive and it's also possibly the reason I stayed with them for so long because I handled all the community aspects and it was my job to facilitate all the free yoga classes and free community programs - this part I adored doing as it allowed me to really try to make a difference. However, every day I walked through that door a little part of my soul tore away and in the end I knew I could find so many other ways to help the community without ever having to utter the words, "cheque, savings or credit" as part of it.

I resigned explaining to them that I no longer wanted to be part of the farce. I wanted to help people. Not steal their money and boost their egos under the guise of "creating components for people to live happier, healthier, more fun lives."

Its a plastic environment, with plastic intentions and squeeky plastic employees (they insure that from the rigorous training process) and however way they want to paint it, people will buy, and lucky they made the change from yoga to all sports as they knew yoga as a trend would soon be fading, but sports as a whole is forever. (If they had of emerged as a sports brand, no-one would have given them a second look, but because they came about as a yoga brand during the commercial rise of yoga/green/organics the owners have made a hefty bed a cash to keep them and their families to come warm for the next century.

As for the children in factories comment, since your coming from the position of child labour being wrong and OBVIOUSLY lululemon's factories wouldn't dare be exploiting children, ill have you know that the founder of lululemon, Chip Wilson actually believes in the merits of child labour and outsourcing to Asia.
At the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies conference in Vancouver, Wilson told the delegates third world children should be allowed to work in factories because it provides them with much-needed wages. They also say he argued that even in Canada there is a place for 12- and 13-year-old street youths to find work in local factories as an alternative to collecting handouts.

Now, whether you believe this to be right or wrong, it pretty much kills your fantastical view of lululemon being kid-friendly in the smash-em-down, eat-em-alive culture of big business, no?

Despite my experiences in this fake company, I believe in Yoga and I believe in Union. I believe that we need to work together to stop our degenerative decline. We are killing ourselves, not just with food and our inactivity, but with our thoughts and inaction.

lululemon is profiting from the good will and hope of others under lies of authenticity and THAT is what PISSES ME OFF.
I'm a former lululemon educator, community leader, and manager. Here is my story...
@czin & @Honesty

Anyway we can talk? My wife is currently drinking the kool-aid (and has been for 5 years). I need to be able to vent about this farce of a company with someone who has actually been there. Let me know. @Honesty, great post. Spot on.
Lululemon sucks! It is so overrated. The clothes are expensive and the sales people are pushy. The styles and colors are obnoxious and loud contradicting what yoga stands for....peace, calm, control. I would spend my money on other things and buy better quality and prettier clothes elsewhere.