Luxury “athleisure” brand Lululemon is under fire for suggesting customers and social media followers “resist capitalism,” participating in a workshop given by one of the brand’s top Instagram influencers.
The Canadian brand, popular among higher-income American women, mostly sells workout wear and comfortable, yet stylish, clothing items, regularly priced between around $38 (for a basic workout tank top) and $500 for a styled parka. Their best-selling items, though, are likely their leggings, which retail between $88 and $300, depending on style, fabric, and quality.
The average price for a pair of Lululemon leggings is around $128 — a difficult point for a company pressing for its own customers to “unveil historical erasure and resist capitalism,” according to an Instagram post on its official account from one of its key affiliates. The brand itself is worth a reported $40 billion and rising as Americans increasingly turn to comfortable daily clothing amidst pandemic-related lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
“Lululemon, known for its £128 yoga leggings, is facing mockery on social media for promoting an event about ‘decolonising gender’ and how to ‘resist capitalism,'” the BBC reported late last week. “The event was featured in an Instagram post in which Lululemon recommended other accounts to follow, including the host of the workshop, Rebby Kern. The yoga instructor is a US-based brand ambassador for the firm.”
Social media users quickly let Lululemon have it.
“Lululemon IS capitalism,” one conservative scholar noted. “It is literally a privately owned corporation that raked in half a billion dollars in pure profits last year, merely by selling overpriced yoga pants to women willing and able to pay for this luxury.”
The criticism wasn’t limited to right-leaning Twitter users. One self-described liberal tweeted, “OMG. I’m tired of the hypocrisy. Lululemon’s yoga pants cost $150 and you are telling me to resist capitalism?”
Others suggested that consumers “resist capitalism” by “not purchasing Lululemon goods” or encouraging the brand to give away its leggings for free to prove it is committed to undoing the prevailing economic system.
“What do you think your entire business is predicated off of? I don’t see you giving away pants for free…or even selling them at an affordable cost. Also what are you doing with the profits?” one highly cited user suggested.
Reeling from the backlash, Lululemon insisted that the event did not represent the company’s beliefs on the subject of economic policy.
“We recently shared on our social channels an upcoming event organized by one of our ambassadors. This is not a Lululemon forum and it does not represent the company’s views,” the brand’s spokesperson told media.
Oddly enough, “woke” Lululemon has been accused of racism. Back in April, the brand was forced to apologize after one of its art directors made a social media post linking to a tee shirt featuring the words, “Bat Fried Rice,” an allusion to what was, at the time, the suspected origin of the novel coronavirus.
Business Insider also notes that the brand’s founder reportedly chose the name “Lululemon” because it was difficult for Japanese consumers to say.
“It was thought that a Japanese marketing firm would not try to create a North American sounding brand with the letter ‘L’ because the sound does not exist in Japanese phonetics,” the founder said in an interview in 2009. “By including an ‘L’ in the name it was thought the Japanese consumer would find the name innately North American and authentic.”