Lululemon is a pretty popular shop these days, I don’t need to tell anybody that. Whether or not you like them, tons of people are shopping lots at Lululemon. Most of them are women, and many of them young, including their young staff. These people are supposed to be sympathetic, social conscious and Internet savvy. Yet, they shop there despite Lululemon having about as despicable a corporate history as any company out there, one that puts what Nike used to be on a level of heaven with saints. Are Lululemon’s shoppers as hypocritical as they are?
Lululemon shoppers are almost like a cult, much like Apple’s shoppers. Lululemon’s are built on yoga and all those ways of inner peace, beauty, wellness relaxation, appreciation and all. Yet, their ways are anything but that. Worse, they know it and flaunt it like it doesn’t matter. So far, it seems not to have, but can this go on?
Take a look at this list of disgusting corporate practices, summarized from a Huffington Post article by Stewart J. Lawrence:
- When Lululemon was founded in 1998, the was name chosen because it had 3 Ls in it to mock the Japanese. Former CEO Chip Wilson liked to mock the many Japanese in Vancouver where the company was found, knowing it would be difficult for many Japanese people to pronounce it, so he went with it and wasn’t shy about disclosing it, either.
- Chip Wilson then went on to promote the merits of child labour, touting at the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies conference in Vancouver in 2005 that Lululemon would rely on child labour in China because it was giving poor Chinese youths jobs. He added that Lululemon should be applauded, not lambasted, for wanting to assist in Third World “development.” In truth, Lululemon didn’t even pay these workers enough to support themselves. Seems hiding child labour practices like Nike was sinful, but being open about it is quite acceptable.
- In 2006, Lululemon introduced Vita-Sea seaweed fiber bags that with stress reducing effects and other miracle claims you see with the Q-bracelet and “ion technology” bracelet scam-o-mercials. Not only were the effects not there, neither was the seaweed! Not misleading. Just outright lying, for which Lululemon chalked up as “experience” rather than apologizing for it.
- Like many companies, Lululemon uses sex in its advertising. However, Lululemon uses far stronger messages, and embeds it subliminally in its garment fabrics as was found in 2008.
- Finally, in 2011, the inner peace touting store had one of its employees, 28 year old Brittany Norwood, stab another employee, 30 year old Jayna Murray, 331 times while that employee was still alive, breaking her face and spinal cord in the process, then leaving her to die. That’s right. 331 times! All Lululemon’s current CEO Christine Day could say about it was Norwood’s behaviour was “contrary to our values”.
Lululemon must have one hell of a public relations firm, is all I can say, able to just brush all these things under the carpet and keeping informed, intelligent and socially conscious consumers coming. They also somehow fool their young workers who are supposedly very Net savvy and anti-corporate to be well aware of this sort of stuff. They are clever and driven to capitalize on a shortage of self-esteem among their shoppers and employees to be able to push all this aside. Not that those people don’t have self-esteem, just not enough for their liking.
But how long can this go on? Depends on who’s willing to spread the word.
If some of this knowledge is new to you and enough to change your mind about Lululemon, share this story, or one linked to it, on your social media page or email list.
Maybe print it out and hand out a couple of dozen as you walk past a Lululemon waiting line this holiday season… or any other time of year for that matter. Here, I’ll make it easy for you with this PDF.
Lululemon Corporate History PDF.pdf
I wonder if those shoppers waiting, including the ones at the very popular stores in Halifax where I live, might rethink their wait. Might be an interesting experiment to try. 😉
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[…] This lawsuit is the latest in a string of Lululemon’s questionable business practices, nicely summarized on Digital Citizen. […]