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The Lululemon Yoga Craze

Is there a Lululemon store in your upscale mall or urban dwelling? If not there soon will be. For those not a yoga “insider” Lululemon is a yoga inspired retailer that currently has 100+ outlets throughout US, Canada and Hong Kong.

 Is there a Lululemon store in your upscale mall or urban dwelling?  If not there soon will be.  For those not a yoga “insider” Lululemon is a yoga inspired retailer that currently has 100+ outlets throughout US, Canada and Hong Kong.This retailer is basically promoting a lifestyle, encouraging people to go out and be healthy and practice, well Yoga. It supports local communities and sometimes very public yoga activities.  They hire popular local yoga instructors to be their brand ambassadors.  Brilliant idea. And they came at the right time, when yoga world wide is booming.  According to the Yoga Journal in 2008, Americans spend $5.7 billion a year on yoga classes and products and a whopping 15.6 million people practice yoga.  And everyone is clear that this number will continue to grow.  There are Lululemon fanatics, its almost as you belong to a club, or as I am starting to see, a cult. 
 
When you take a yoga class, particularly in New York City, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, all places I frequent, it is rare not to find most of the classes in the apparel.  It’s what I am terming the “yoga mom”.  Remember in the 1990s when the term soccer mom was coined (think during Clinton’s first election, these women brought him to victory).  Wearing this clothing is the stamp of approval.  Meaning, you clearly take care of yourself, you are educated (71.4% of yoga attendees are college educated, 27% have postgraduate degrees), you are an upper income bracket and you have a family and are not interested in having it all (meaning the corporate job and the 2.5 kids).  Companies looking to appeal to a female market, this is your new woman. 
 
Lululemon, according to the company website, was started by a yoga practitioner, whom felt that there we no functional fabrics on the market when practicing yoga.  Founded in 1998, the first store opened in Vancouver BC.  What makes the clothing different, is that it supposedly shapes the bottom and what most women say, make it look better (I challenge this), rather than use cotton, it used a fabric called Luon.   And the clothing is not cheap, for someone whom purchases her yoga clothes at American Apparel (I prefer to spend under $20.00 on my yoga pieces, and I don’t want to appear as if I do yoga), it is in fact ridiculously expensive…more the reason why people are buying into the cult of the brand and the lifestyle.  Another display of wealth.  On a typical Brentwood-Santa Monica CA morning, you will see woman pulling up to school, dropping off their kids in their SUVs, holding a Starbucks and wearing the complete Lululemon attire.  Whether or not they are going to yoga, well that is another story.
 
As much as I shudder at the thought of the commercialization of yoga, it was already too commercialized before Lululemon, accolades to the brand, whom capitalized on growing movement and the understanding that most women want to be a part of the “cool” club.  They understand their “yoga mom.”  In 2007, according to NY Magazine, the company went public and sold $350 million worth of apparel.   I find it ironic, yoga is all about the pursuit of non-material and non-cult like enthusiasm.  As more stores continue to pop up, clearly, we lost the yoga lesson along the way.  

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