What Lululemon allows image-conscious urban women to be

I don’t want to get too deep into the sheer (a pun, by the way) craziness that is the ongoing Lululemon story, but I came across this piece in the New Republic on the company’s founder, Chip Wilson, and it seems worth a read for a few reason:

  • It traces Wilson’s work history back to the oil fields of Alaska. Where every yoga company CEO begins.
  • It conflates Wilson and Whole Foods Market John Mackey and their shared love of Ayn Rand and libertarianism. I can’t help wondering if there is something that further conflates libertarianism and liberal business — particularly consumer business. Do old-fashioned liberals/progressives not have the John Galt spunk to create their own yoga clothing behemoth?
  • It ends with this line: “But perhaps most crucially of all to its business model, though, Lululemon has finally allowed image-conscious urban women to be full, unembarrassed participants in the true American dream—wearing sweatpants in public.”

Here’s a little more:

There is a boom market in ostentatious wellness these days, one that is underpinned by the same synthesis of seemingly opposite impulses—to achieve, and to bliss out—that drives Wilson. His customers are much more like him than many would care to admit. If you seek spiritual enlightenment through yoga and fasting, go to India or the 1960s. If you want to have the best-looking ass in line at Starbucks, try Lululemon’s free Saturday class and a pair of $82 Wunder Unders.

I think from that you can get the gist.

Perhaps as a palate / mind cleanser, I can offer David Garrigues’ latest:

Listening and feeling within involves a certain ‘heart donkey’ work in doing long periods of zen koan like, inward turning puzzle solving that takes the form of active thought and struggling for answers on how to progress. This effortful work alternates with suspending willful striving, receptivity, trust, and letting go enough for answers to arrive on their own. Largely Yoga is about the relationship I develop with my own mind, its entire range from brilliant to brutish. And as I struggle, sort through, let go, and clear my mind, then my connection to the Source can take the lead.

Is the Source the next gen Lululemon material? If it isn’t, it ought to be. (I’ll only take a small %, Mr. Wilson.)

Posted by Steve

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