I will be the first to say that I drank the Kool-Aid when I started working for lululemon last October. On a very superficial level, the company seems amazing. It's a company that states that it cares about its' employees goals and that wants "to elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness." Again, I thought this AMAZEBALLS when I first started working for the company.
I was a supporter of lululemon from the moment it was introduces to be, buying into the latest workout fashions and the "best" technology for workout gear there was to offer. I spend thousands of dollars on this new fashion trend and workout technology. While I still love the gear, I mean it is comfortable and the older stuff holds up for years if you take care of it properly, I will no longer be spending my hard earned money on this Canadian-based company. Here's why:
1. The founder, Chip Wilson, has been on record saying that he supports sweat shops in third world countries because it provides employment. Ok, got it, stop there. His mistake: saying that he pays them shit money. If you really want to elevate the world, then pay them better wages. These people work 16-hour days in crappy conditions and get paid very little money.
2. Chip Wilson said he named lululemon with three "L"s in it to make fun of Asian people. He never wanted the company to reach out to Asian countries and wanted it to remain an American based company so that Asian people can't pronounce the name. Hey Chip! I'm 100% Thai and I can pronounce "lululemon". Epic fail.
3. The quality of the product has gone significantly down in the last year. We all know about the see through pants debacle, but the quality of their products have gone way down. In the time I was with the company, I saw numerous returns on piling products, holes, snags, seams ripping, etc. The older lululemon items I have stand up way better to the elements than any of the newer stuff I have purchase. Also - see through pants? Well maybe you should pay those who work in the sweat shops more money and they will care more about the products they produce.
4. The company says that the price reflects the quality of the product and the latest technology. Wrong again. Why are your branded yoga pants $98? Because lululemon will purchase yarn from one country, ship it across the world to have the fabric made, then ship it again across the world to have the garments made, then ship to headquarters in Vancouver, then to the store across the nation. You aren't paying for the best fabric or the best technology, you are paying for shipping the shit across the world multiple times.
5. It's a company that says that integrity is one of its core values. Going back to #1, if integrity is so important to you, then pay the people in the sweat shops more money. Have some INTEGRITY about what you will pay to those third world countries you are "providing" jobs for. Better yet, make their working conditions better, shorter hours, better working quarters, etc. Also -- make sure that your individual stores also stand for integrity. I worked at a store where the store manager was so obsessed with making a good impression on corporate that she forgot about the basics of running a store: making sure your floor is appropriately staffed, making sure that when you are supposed to be on the floor, you are there and no hiding in the back room, make sure your guests are happy, make sure your managers and treating everyone with respect . . . oh this list could go on. But to top the list, make sure that your manager aren't sleeping with you part and full time employees and the entire store knows about it and no one does a damn thing about it. Talk about integrity! That last one really hits my point home!
While I used to love lululemon and was hard core drinking the Kool-Aid, the buzz has worn off and I will be investing my money in USA made and manufactured companies such as alo, nut, etc. Their stuff is just as good, if not better, and way cuter than anything lululemon can make.