Yoga: it’s big news! (for yuppies! oh we kid. we meant yippies) This bright Monday morning (afternoon?) brings us not one but TWO profiles on our favorite goal-setting stretchy pants company, Lululemon (NYMag, NYTimes) (and quite frankly we were offended neither one asked for our input). There’s not much said we didn’t know before, but with two biggie media outlets shedding light on the lulu lollies once again it bares the non-plan plan of the buff-behinded ones. It’s a conundrum…in capitalism you must grow, but luluheads claim they don’t want to be massive. Somehow, we imagine investors will sooner or later beg to differ. Can there be greatness without growth?
This week’s New York Magazine has an article basically running down the main bullet points of a Lululemon consumer FAQ (or warning label): the vitasea scandal; the Landmark Forum cultish-ness; the creepy manifesto; the glassy-faced “educators”; the exorbitant prices and wealthy clientele. There’s really nothing new. Though we did enjoy the fine job of carving out a portrait of the high-falutin’ Hamptons lululemming shopper as it were:
“They would drop $2,000 easy. They would just say, ‘I like that top, I’ll take one in every color.’ ”
And how Lululemon has become a status symbol:
“…socially speaking, Luluheads are much like sailors who wear their deck shoes in town—“Oh, what, these? Why, yes, I do happen to own a boat.” Tight yoga pants are a nice way of letting people know that you’re spiritual and healthy, can pay $20 a class for yoga, and are very flexible.”
Oh and another highlight was the part about the Lululemon Athletica Success Chakra, an “eight-point wheel of instruction enumerating the routes to “wealth,” “long-term human relationships,” and a “superior immune system” with ambiguous brush strokes of ‘be a do-gooder’, ‘don’t drink soda’ etc. Good Karma! Make money!
The NYTimes article takes a drier tone to present the oozing of “yoga-lifestyle” in pop culture and Lulu’s attempt to stamp its logo on everyone’s tush in the grocery store, and rather successfully we might add:
And after all, one lesson of the “action sports” niche is the power of the lifestyle crossover. Just as you don’t have to skateboard to wear skater sneakers, you don’t have to be able to nail a sun-salutation pose to wear yoga pants.
But it’s more like the message of glossed-over get-happy cliches. And more broad strokes:
These days, Lululemon doesn’t make a lot of specific claims about sustainable materials; its positive messaging is more vague, projected through upbeat achieve-your-goals slogans like “Friends are more important than money.”
Both articles of course mention the detractors: for NYMag it’s Yoga Inc.‘s disgusted John Philp, whom they refer to as ‘the Michael Moore of yoga.” The Times gets a little less obvious with Boulder, CO, writer (past contributor to Yoga Journal), author and yogi, Elaine Lipson, who bemoans the dawn of the “yoga chick,” where upper class ladies sport the garb to distinguish themselves. The Times also smartly cites some brainy ivy leaguers who penned a paper called “Conceptual consumption”:
“what we buy is not simply some thing but some idea that is embodied by that thing.”
Brilliant. We all know that by now, right? Fashion, jewelry, fancy cars: all symbols and representations of who we are how much money we have, and now, apparently, how awesomely yogic we are!
But don’t worry lulu lollies, the exclusively expensive club brand won’t get TOO big. CEO Christine Day may have been head honcho of Starbucks, but community-relations director Eric Petersen assures us:
“You’ll never see Lululemon stores everywhere,” says Petersen. “We have no interest in being a thousand-store chain.” [NYMag]
Thanks New York publications. And especially NYTimes for that special graphic.