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Lululemon’s Distasteful ‘Lululeather’ April Fool’s Joke Goes Too Far

in YD News, YogOpinions


If you’re tired of hearing about Lululemon, I’m sorry, I don’t blame you. Apparently, they don’t think you are. Beyond a series of real scandals (ie. see-through pants, John Galt, suing Calvin Klein, polarizing Barbie spoof, charging a crisp Benjamin for stretchy pants) Lululemon is known for their comedic, if not bizarre, sensibilities and their yearly pretend scandal, aka April Fool’s Day prank. This year though, I think they should have sat this one out.

(Apologies, if you think this is OMG sooooo funny and you will love lululemon til you die and stuff. This may not be for you. No bigs.)

Perhaps the lulus thought a little levity would distract everyone and remind us all how fun and friendly they really want us all to believe they are. It can’t hurt, right? Except instead of good-natured silliness, they resorted to jumping the sharkasana. What did the brilliant minds come up with as a joke? Lululeather, aka what I call the asinine bovine line. (Full disclosure: vegan in the house, BUT I believe everyone should choose what’s right for them.)


Now if you’d asked me, hey lady, what could lulu do to alienate and offend even more people, especially yogis? I would say, make a tasteless and ill-advised joke about a new leather line, feature cows in the utterly insensitive marketing video where you extol the feeling of “skin to skin,” use the tagline “from farm to studio” and be so unfunny about it that it actually is offensive to the comedic form and cows everywhere. Oh and be even more disgusting with the butcher-style logo. Ugh. (Personally, during the video I couldn’t help thinking, if they show them cutting cow skin one more time I’m going to barf.) Plus the time, effort and money it took to produce the whole thing might have been better spent elsewhere in my opinion. Believe me, I get it, offensive is funny. Overall though, this is lame and just plain dumb, and is one more instance of lulus living in lala land.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s the video:

I think if the company really wanted to live by their policy of “greatness” they should have made it a goal to sit down and meditate for while, silently. Maybe as a joke they should have designed one of their extra fancy tops with a zipper for their lips. And maybe I’m not the only one who thought so. I couldn’t find any posts on Facebook by lulu staff, which seemed strange, but I didn’t have trouble finding comments from offended customers (albeit, certainly amongst other folks who thought the prank was funny.)

Below are a few examples via Facebook. (If you really want to subject yourself to the crossfires, you can always brave the flames of YouTube commenters.)

Amy Sheehan wrote:

Your April Fool’s joke sucked. Gross. Your so called manifesto reads: “What you do to the earth you do to yourself.” At least try and live up to that. Come on, there’s a million other things you could have done for the joke and it could have been funny, unexpected, and not tasteless like this one.

Jill Broersma Olson (who went on quite the yoga shopping spree) wrote:

I think your leather ad is TASTELESS and should be removed asap. I just spent $500 over the weekend on your stuff and am shocked how stupid and insensitive your fake ad is. Someone is your marketing department must have some screws loose and should be fired.

Marion Ambler (also a loyal consumer investor) wrote:

I didn’t think it was funny at all. I’ve just happily cut up about $850 worth of their stuff and never buying another item from them. It was a total slap in the face to anyone who cares about animals.

Uddhava Das wrote:

Your April Fool’s joke certainly got attention. But what a tasteless way of doing ads and getting people to notice. You could have done something funny instead of this cheap skate nonsense.

Yoga is supposed to be ahimsa. But your ad shows that your minds are not. So thank you for showing your inner thoughts. We will not going forward considering you as a supplier for our yoga store…

Hm, did the shareholders approve of this?

So I can yammer on all I want until we’re all lulu’d in the face. And maybe I’m just way too sensitive. What did you think about the joke?

hollypenny is a vegan, a yoga practitioner and a feminist who enjoys defying what that means to everyone who thinks they know what that means. She also enjoys wearing yoga pants and cardigan sweaters. Because they’re comfortable.


34 comments… add one
  • Laura

    I was wondering how this would go over given that certain schools of yoga endorse vegetarianism and that cows are not eaten in India. Also, how do the people who commented have that much money to spend on leggings??? Just go to Target or a locally owned yoga shop.

    • Isaac

      “Cows are not eaten in India”?

      I laughed out loud. Then felt sad and embarrassed for the insularity of the yoga world.

  • Nikki Scozzafava

    Aaaaaaaaand this is why I’m still more than happy with my TJ Maxx yoga pants. Lululemon will most likely never earn my patronage.

  • TK

    How is using leather any different than using lycra? The environmental impact of synthetic materials used in the production of stretchy pants is awful. This farce is closer to truth than even LuLites will admit.

    • Philip

      You have to be joking…right? If you are not… then this has to be the single most ignorant comment I’ve ever read on a yoga comment column.
      Please take a look at this video starting at 3:40 sec


      and then please show me the equivalent of this manufacturing lycra? No difference?
      Really? Wow.

  • I hadn’t even heard about this until just now. This is just straight-up ridiculous. (Also, just really not that funny or original.) If they really couldn’t restrain themselves from sitting out of the April Fool’s shenanigans, they should have gone with a video about, I don’t know, maybe selling a brand-new line of skin-tight see-through yoga pants. Some self-deprecating humor people might have actually appreciated and laughed at.

    I won’t stop wearing what I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on to this points, but oh, Lulu, I gave you my money for the last time about a week before the yoga pants silliness began, along with a lot of others I’m sure. And you’re doing a terrible job winning back customers.

  • Dana

    Not funny at all. I think of it as more of a “I am LULU I AM GOD, I can make fun of anyone and still get people to spend money on me, even grass root yogis”. I get the point they are making, but read deeper….they are not making a jab at animals…they are making fun of people. It is YOGIS making fun of people. LULU is making a judgemnent call on the intelligence of PEOPLE. LULU if you are listening, you need to find HUMILITY again before it is too late.

  • Daniel

    Saying this as a lover of all sentient beings. Life is too fuggin short, smile a bit for you own sake. The ad was satire and I didn’t feel like it was real or they were causing real harm to animals. The idea of April fools is to trick people into believing something that is not real.

  • JuiceIca

    I dont know, it wasnt very funny but I wasnt horribly offended either. Though, I think Lulu is INSANELY expensive and I wouldnt buy any of their stuff with our without this kinda lame ad. I am not a vegan so all the cow stuff didnt bother me in the least. I just didn’t think it as all that clever but I also am not going to get all riled up. I mean, seriously, its just a yoga clothing company trying to negate their bad press but not being funny. They should have used the money spent on this lame ad to improve their pants and customer service!

  • Amanda

    Are they insane? So many yogis are also pretty serious vegans and do not touch animal products. Have they heard of this? Have they heard of ahimsa? Oh wait, no they haven’t, because they just keep proving they don’t actually know anything about yoga, they just happen to sell tons of yoga gear. I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I found this really offensive. But even more so, just really stupid. Hopefully all of the crazy mistakes they keep making will have an impact on all of the people blindly buying their products left and right.

  • wordstress

    Oh come on. I’ve never bought or owned a single item of Lulu wear, since it’s absurd to pay that much for stretchy pants just because they have a stupid logo. BUT I think this video is fairly funny in how it satirizes a brand of yogic earnestness taken in a direction that provokes cognitive dissonance–overly self-important ideals of ahimsa/loving animals and the earth, yet ending up in wearing those same animals that are spoken about so reverently. I have no love for the brand, but those who don’t find it funny are just reinforcing the most obnoxious stereotypes of self-satisfied, sanctimonious yogis and yoginis.

    • Philip

      Right on wordstress….You understood the satire here. Actually its rather brilliant video in the way it uses language right from humane raised meat companies. Cheers!!!

  • aleya

    Lulu is such a crappy company. We are done with all their shanigans. They dont get yoga. They are just a fake yoga company with some cheesy slogans on their backs. People have been suckers to buy into their canadian “cult of retailing” as defined by their founder Chip Wilson. They should have stuck to making ski jakets in vancouver. This ad wants me to throw up. Very poor indeed.

  • I didn’t find the prank roll-on-the-floor funny, but I didn’t find it offensive, either. I thought it was just really tongue-in-cheek and sortof entertainingly self-aware. Granted, I don’t shop with Lululemon, nor will I start shopping with them any time soon, but that has more to do with my general belief that yoga can’t really be bought and sold, no matter how good those pants make your butt look.

  • sorrow

    i do not think the author is too sensitive, if anything not sensitive enough, as this is all about irony, and on the whole i am surprised at the negative reaction to it. it is about the folly of thinking animal products are somehow “good” because they are from local, well treated animals, the same sort of sheen behind which brutality usually hides (pardon the pun). it also brought attention to drinking milk while practicing yoga, how absurd and incompatible.

    all lulu’s products are polyurethane and none are leather or otherwise animal sourced, which isn’t to say they’re good, just that the company is de facto vegan. the fortuned folks who can spend $500-$1000 on clothes and then cut them up in outrage (though i hope in april fools outrage)- this is super sad, opulence wasted in a moment of fury.

    i bought some pants at goodwill this weekend, cotton, drawstring and wonderful, they cost $8 and if I waited a few days they’d have been $4. i need clothes to keep me warm, these pants make me comfortable too. i have never felt comfortable in oil/chemical clothes (exception for when it’s raining 🙂 ) and i do not need a second skin which is what all spandex is as far as i can tell. i can understand for biking, but the only wind of concern in yoga is within you.

    • Philip

      You got it right sorrow! Irony satire went right over the yoga dorks heads.

  • Kristy

    Eh, it’s not that funny but I’m also not offended. I get what they’re trying to do. Of course they understand ahisma; they’re using satire to show that they understand it. I’m not a fan of Lulu in general and I’m a vegetarian. I don’t understand the outrage here. Lighten up, people.

  • YogiMatt

    Ok, so maybe it was in bad taste, and not very funny, but IT WAS A JOKE! Get over it! Not all yogis are vegetarians and vegans! I’m definitely not.. been Paleo for 2+ years and never felt better. get over yourselves!!

    I’m going to eat some steak now.

    • sorrow

      yogimatt you aren’t over yourself. you consider only your own wellbeing to be what is most important.

    • Lisa

      I’m with you YogiMatt! It was funny – it was a joke. Get over it……I think you all need a Vega shoot!

  • ADub

    I didn’t think it was that funny, I thought it was sarcastic. Marketing is marketing and as they say, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity!” Here we are reading, writing and talking about LuLu! It worked didn’t it!?
    Putting so much of your energy into being angry and frustrated with an apparel company for a joke is a waste of your time and intention…is it not? If you’re that mad, be the change. Just don’t buy it. I think the people that are most frustrated are the ones who believe that buying into yoga apparel would make them “real” Yogis, or at least help them fit in with the other people who think clothing makes you better somehow. Sorry folks! Lulu Lemon is a for-profit corporation with shareholders!
    I will still continue to buy their items that I’m really drawn to and represent my personal style but, I am by no means the kind that cares to be decked out it ANY label from head to toe.
    Which is just marketing as well!!!
    Happy Shopping! We’re all consumers, put your money where your beliefs are 🙂

  • Chops

    Dont have a cow man.

  • suntea

    It’s satire. So they took a shocking and ridiculous idea and exaggerated it using stereotypes of “yogis in harmony with the earth” to mock their own spiritual materialism, and that of their customers. They knew that everyone would be initially shocked and offended, but they assumed that you could still laugh at yourselves, and your limited belief systems. They were wrong.

    Satire is a way of showing how wrong something is (ie, killing animals unnecessarily) by taking it to the extreme. As someone else said, Lulu doesn’t sell any animal products.

    The ad wasn’t funny to me, more of a groaner, but I appreciated the self-reflection on spiritual materialism that is Lulu’s entire market.

    I am vegetarian. I don’t buy lulu cause it’s disgustingly expensive. For me, yoga is not about yoga pants, crystal malas, studio memberships, a hot butt, spring-cleaning your chakras, or anything else that you can buy or kill yourself trying to achieve. It is about being fully alive in every moment.

  • Olga

    As we go on with yoga, we will see more and more of this and some of us will become so di- sensitized that we will not see anything wrong with it. Sad. I love yoga not for wearing certain pants or bra to my class but how this wonderful tool transforms my soul and my mind.


  • Philip

    I’m vegan now 23 years and I think yoga dork Penny and nearly every person commenting here missed the point of the satire. The point was to show how foolish and rather ignorant people are about the supposed humanely raised animals industry. I know people will find it hard to believe but there is no such thing as humanely raised animals for food, leather or fur.


    If you watch the satire again you will clearly understand that it was humorous in quite a factual way… as in making fun of people who think using animal products is a harmless activity rather than understanding that animals shouldn’t be used or exploited at all.
    Whoever made the video obviously knows the phony humane raised animal schtick well coming out of the mouths of whole food type meat suppliers and did a great job of portraying some of those ludicrous ideas. They re used some of the same exact words. Brilliant.
    Sometimes sarcasm goes right over peoples head as it clearly did here.
    The phrase farm to studio is actually very very funny because it’s used over and over to somehow convey that it is compassionate or more kind.
    What’s most distasteful was not the video spoof but people who believe using non human animals for food or clothing is ok…. yet making fun of the compassionate carnivore type yoga person is not ok.


    You cant make this stuff up..


    Farm to fridge video


  • Seth

    I’m reminded of a past lulu controversy that got my nose bent out of shape (I must admit I thought the lululeather was quite funny) and the measured response that I saw on TV from Yoga Teacher Micheal Stone. Lets all remember that Lulu is JUST a clothing store, nothing more.

  • I think Philip got the REAL point!

  • rocketgrrl

    I thought it was funny – reminds me of the people who go to the farm to meet the place where their chicken dinner came from on Portlandia. The mock earnestness, the music, the cinematography, all of it was satire. and funny.

  • for everyone who thinks India is the land of ahimsa and yoga and spirituality, wake up! cows are absolutely eaten in India — I just spent a week in Goa and beef is on many menus.

    I would also invite you to go to any high end store in Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, etc. and check out the designer purses and shoes that upscale Indians spend a ton of rupees on. from the smell of leather in those stores, there are no sacred cows.

    If anyone wants to read any stories in Indian newspapers about the horrible way cattle are taken to slaughterhouses in India, I can direct you to some.

    take off your western rose-colored glasses.

  • JinCO

    I am just glad it was a joke.. I was initially mortified, but now I think it was kind of clever. Isn’t advertising supposed to promote action, this certainly promoted the action of discussion.

  • kamala

    Sometimes the yoga world takes itself too seriously. Not everyone is vegetarian. Piety is something I chose to distance myself from as a young child being raised by strict Catholic parents. Beliefs are one thing, forcing them on others goes too far. If you don’t like to eat cows, fine. You don’t have to and I respect your belief system but don’t assume all yogis must aspire to vegan principles.

    I think it’s funny in a good way because it raises questions about how over the top some yoga communities have become, like exclusive sororities or a gossiping gang of church ladies. This is a big reason why I choose to incorporate many styles of yoga in my practice. As a person, I must question that inner core or righteousness, that anyone who was exposed to strict religion as a child can understand, in Every organization, contains the nuggets of piety and corruption.

  • sarah

    I thought this was great. Instead of pandering to a wellness cliche like other similar brands, they got creative, showed a sense of humor and got people talking.

    I like the brand so much more after seeing this and the Barbie spoof.

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