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Dalai Lama and Lululemon Join in Surprise, ‘Bizarre’ Partnership Causing Yet Another Controversy

in Business of Yoga, YD News

Image via Lululemon.com

The Dalai Lama aligning with yoga might not be too shocking, but teaming up with Lululemon? We’re not making this up and it’s not April. Lululemon and the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education are partnering to “promote mindfulness…to foster heart-mind wellbeing in children and youth.”

Heart-mind well-being refers to “creating a balance between educating the mind and educating the heart” by encouraging children to develop social and emotional skills, as per the description on the Dalai Lama Center’s website. Thanks to this new partnership with Lululemon and the 250,000 Canadian dollars ($221,900) they’ll provide annually for the next three years (that’s almost a quarter of a million dollars every year), the center’s heart-mind education initiative can be expanded and further research can be done on the connection between the heart and mind, so that more kids will be more mindful, compassionate and able to resolve conflicts more peacefully, for example. Something Lululemon could learn from? Maybe if there’s a part about conscious and mindful marketing?

Both sides have made statements and are quite happy about the partnership, apparently. Via the NY Post:

“In our 16 years working through our stores and communities, we have learned the positive impact created when athletes, yogis, and leaders leverage the connection between the heart, mind and body,” the company’s CEO Laurent Potdevin said in a statement. “Together with the Dalai Lama Center we have a unique opportunity to further inspire a compassionate, mindful generation.”

A spokeswoman for the Dalai Lama Center told the Daily News that the partnership is “about looking forward and about expanding ‘the village’ that it takes to raise generations of compassionate, kind, and resilient children by creating adequate supports around them.”

However, many people are not pleased about the news and have shown it via the Dalai Lama Center’s facebook page where the announcement was made on Tuesday. Pointing to Lululemon’s exclusionary and expensive luxury brand, their recurring quality issues, plus Chip Wilson’s lack of good judgement and ironic lack of compassion towards women’s bodies, commenters are rather flabbergasted and frankly disappointed to hear about the partnership.

“Being a plus size woman, I never cared that I couldn’t buy Lululemon clothing. However, in the recent past, the company has shown its inability to be compassionate and caring towards all people,” said one commenter.

Another commenter added that she’s “…not sure I believe that the purpose of the Dalai Lama and corporate marketing should ever go hand in hand.”

To which the Dalai Lama Center replied: “Dear Danielle, our partnership with lululemon that was announced yesterday at the Heart-Mind Summit in Vancouver is about looking forward and about expanding “the village” that it takes to raise generations of compassionate, kind, and resilient children by creating adequate supports around them. We’re both based in Vancouver and we both share a vision for building stronger, healthier communities. The partnership is rooted in research on Heart-Mind education and luluelmon [sic] will help us expand our global reach.”

But people are not convinced of the “ill-advised” partnership and have taken to the lulu blog announcement as well to voice their opinions. Echoing disapproval, commenters call the collaboration “a shame” and “bizarre.”

This comment by Valerie draws attention to the potential conflict of interest and Lululemon’s remarkable ability to keep screwing up in the public’s eye:

To the folks at Lululemon,

There are some things in this world which should remain non-brandeable.
There are still some things in this world which remain sacred to many people.
It is offensive that you have sunk to low as to use the Dalai Lama and his image as part of your branding. How dare you.

There are people in this world who have suffered and some died for their beliefs in the practices and philosophies that the Dalai Lama embodies. His image is sacred to them and you have the audacity to post this on the same page where you brand your tights and tanks and yoga wear.
Shame on you.

I had thought you wouldn’t be able to tarnish your image any further or find new lows…but you seem to have developed a remarkable corporate talent for that.

Meanwhile, lulu fans are upset over the connection to the Dalai Lama’s activism and politics. As Nichole put it: “To be honest, I’m very disgusted by it right now. I even feel I should get rid of all the labels from my LLL’s clothes. I’m neutral on politics and I’m not on either side. If you put such a politically sensitive person to be your soul leader, then I’ll leave.”

Those lulus. Honestly. It seems they just don’t know what to do with themselves. Unfortunately, taking a corporate “time out” doesn’t go over so well with the shareholders, though that’s probably the only and best thing they could possibly do right now.




12 comments… add one
  • S.

    Thank goodness Lululemon is on to exploit something other than Yoga. Sorry Dalai Lama.

  • Shasha

    I think the Dalai Lama side are focussing on the funding potential from Lulu Lemon and seeing this without judgement as a unique act of compassion towards the younger generation setting aside all else. They acknowledge the company is not perfect, but that this shouldn’t stop them from reaching out to help others. Maybe they see it as a step in a positive direction! I’m not a fan of Lulu Lemon’s general ethics, give me Sweaty Betty any day, but we can attempt to focus on who is benefitting.

  • paul

    dunno why people see this as anything but a positive; heart-mind well-being is a list of values that can be translated to standards every company should hold themselves to, and now lululemon can be referenced to these values. to my view these are a significant step up from the libertarian stuff nichole seems to have not been aware of, and i wonder how many anti-partnershipers had even heard of the project, or would mobilize to offer a donations in lieu of lulu’s. here also is the opportunity to talk about the oppression of tibet (sorry to the nicholes of the world, food or fashion it’s all political anymore!), the immolations http://www.savetibet.org/resources/fact-sheets/self-immolations-by-tibetans/ and not voting for corporate-run candidates, favoring instead those who will remove the loopholes and help set a poison-free field for local ownership of the products we treasure. (ps. endorse howie hawkins!)

  • These are distinctly different bedfellows. This does not change my respect for the D.L., nor does it increase my respect (therefore, commercial support) for Lulu. I will not purchase any of their products even if an individual I follow and respect has thrown his support their way.

  • Yoga_Dude

    I wonder of LL yoga pants make the Dalai Lama’s ass look good?

  • Denise

    I don’t understand this, period. The Dalai Lama is hooking up with a corporation why??? I’m pretty sure his organization gets tons of support from devotees worldwide. To team up with a corrupt ass backwards company to me is just totally moving us in the WRONG direction. Capitalism is not the answer, never has been, never will be. I cannot even fathom the motivation behind this partnership, but it turns out everyone has their price!
    I’ll be honest, this makes my heart hurt a little.

  • Fascinating. Absurd. Horrible. Typical ‘McCorporation Meets The Cause.’

  • Nancy Gilgood

    Has anyone noticed that this story is not being written about by anyone at Elephant Journal? They publish everything so why so silent on this? Can you say censorship?

    • paul

      you should write one for them.

  • While I have mixed feelings about Lululemon’s collaboration with the Dalai Lama center, there is one good thing to come out of it – the press and reactions to this announcement are raising awareness for the DLC and all the good work it does. So we can be grateful for that!

  • tibet murder in the snow lies

    what a bs dalai lama is a liar

  • tibet murder in the snow lies

    what a bs dalai lama is a liar still!!!

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