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Exposing the Truth About Lululemon

As one of the top athletic companies, Lululemon has dominated the sports industry by producing comfortable, high-performance and fashionable sportswear. Its buttery touch and quality assurance make its high price point seemingly passable. Not to mention, its promotion of healthy living and diversity certainly shows that Lululemon is keen on inspiring young individuals to live a positive lifestyle. However, this constructed image that Lululemon has built unfortunately hides the reality of its racism and the malpractice behind the brand.

Contradicting its own values, Lululemon has tried to sweep its secrets under the rug and away from the public. The platform it’s created for itself makes it difficult to identify whether the promotion of an active lifestyle also extends to its practices, or if it is only a marketing tactic. Therefore, it is necessary to unravel the truth about Lululemon to discover how the brand truly aligns with its lifestyle pillars.

The “L” in Lululemon

Original founder, Chip Wilson, was forced to step down in December 2013, following a series of questionable statements he made regarding the brand. In an interview, Wilson told Canada’s National Post Business Magazine that the inability of Japanese people to pronounce the letter “L” was purely a marketing strategy for the company.

“L is not in their vocabulary. It’s a tough pronunciation for them. So I thought, next time I have a company, I’ll make a name with three Ls and see if I can get three times the money. It’s kind of exotic for them. I was playing with Ls and I came up with Lululemon. It’s funny to watch them try to say it,” Wilson was quoted saying in the interview.

While the brand supposedly promotes diversity and inclusion, Lululemon’s founders have refused to admit to the harmfulness of the name and its roots. In later interviews, Wilson had attempted to restore the image of the company by stating that “The name ‘lululemon’ has no roots and means nothing other than it has 3 ‘L’s’ in it.  Nothing more and nothing less.” Unfortunately, Lululemon has built its foundations on racism and has tried to bury its dark history to the general public.

Toxic Reusable Bags

Although the Lululemon bags are known to be reusable and water-resistant all while providing motivational messages, its material was not always safe to use. Despite the fact that the bags are made from polypropylene, the bags faced a recall in 2010 due to reports of high lead levels. Many of the Lululemon staff were advised beforehand to return the bags, prior to the information being released to the public. 

Deteriorating Quality

The quality promised for Lululemon’s products have seen a significant decline. A couple of years back, the Luon fabric was reported by several customers for its sheerness. Lululemon was forced to remove the product off the shelves until an adjustment could be made. As part of its quality control problem, the sheer Luon fabric used to construct the leggings was attributed to offshoring in Asia which used cheap quality fabric. The problem with guaranteeing high quality is the high associated costs. As demand grows and the Lululemon brand’s revenue increases, meaningful quality is traded for profit. Although the brand has introduced a quality assurance policy to keep up with its values, in 2019, it removed pilling for one of the reasons a customer could exchange a pair of leggings. Hence, its tightened rules only show Lululemon’s unwillingness to align with its own promise. 

Lululemon as a brand has proven to be racist and untrustworthy, hiding its problems from the general public and failing to uphold its values. The fame of this apparel company has only forced it to turn to consumerist tactics of offshoring and has become a phoney representation of a healthy living sportswear brand.

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Oana Padurean

Western '23

My name is Oana and I am a student at Western University studying International Relations as my choice of major. Intrigued by the arts, I chose to take part in Her Campus to use this as a platform to empower girls and young adults my age. I have a strong interest in the world around me and want to use it as inspiration to address global issues, modern problems surfacing, and how this generation is choosing to react. One small step can cause incremental change.
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