Catchin’ up: States with the most yoga studios, used Lululemons and …

Quick little potpourri of news for you.

First up, the Huffington Post published a map showing where there are the most yoga studios, per capita, across the United States. California and New York aren’t at the top, although Colorado is close. Find it here.

Secondly, because we’ve consistently touched on all things Lululemon, you may have heard that “used” Lululemons can cost a ton. From the Racked article:

When it comes to the Lululemon resale market, Nobles is far from unique. Hundreds of thousands of people are active members of this underground community. There are more than 100 private Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling both new and used Lululemon items; over on eBay, countless sellers list Lululemon products with 1000 percent markups. Lulu running shorts can go for upwards of $800, as can the brand’s vaunted leggings. Bras easily resell for $250, while tanks are listed for $500.

[snip]

The most glaring cause for this underground market, though, is Lulu’s merchandising strategy. Since its founding in 1998, Lululemon has run on a scarcity model: It only releases a certain amount of each style and doesn’t replenish stock once its sold out. Lulu maintains hype among its devoted shoppers by releasing new items every single week, but the scarcity of each piece means enthusiasts lust after sold-out goods.

And there were those Hillary Clinton memes.

Posted by Steve

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All you ever wanted to know about Lululemon

When it comes to the ridiculously named  Lululemon, I have a clear conscience. The first time I walked into a store, a slightly smug salesperson asked me if she could be of some assistance. I said I was looking for a good pair of yoga pants that could take a beating. When I saw the price tag on the pair of pants that could theoretically take a beating, I thanked her kindly, walked out, and headed to Old Navy. For that much money, they should do the Ashtanga for me.

Since then, Steve’s given me a couple pairs, and I like ’em, but I’m not nuts about ’em. After the series of awkward and downright offensive blunders by the now former CEO, Chip Wilson, I think I can safely say that I won’t be getting any more of them–the Ayn Rand connection alone would scare him out of the store. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, reporter Amy Wallace has published a piece in New York Times Magazine about the whole sordid mess, along with a little delving into the Mind of Chip. This quote from the interview will make you feel good about moving those Lululemon pants into the back of the rotation:

“I think that Lululemon was so successful because I was probably the only straight guy that was making women’s apparel, and I knew what a guy liked,” Wilson told me. “Girls ended up wearing it, and guys commented on it.”

I don’t even know what that means (“guys commented on it”? on what, exactly? and what form did that take? hoots and wolf whistles?), but I can identify a hyper-abundance of arrogance when I hear it. Wilson’s piece is a pretty fascinating read, summarizing the growth and rise of Lululemon, and setting the stage for the spin-off company Wilson’s wife, Shannon and son J.J. have started, Kit and Ace (the description of the target consumer will make you visibly cringe). Wilson peppers her interview with some pithy analysis, like this bit:

More than once, the way Wilson spoke reminded me of the airhead fashion model Ben Stiller plays in “Zoolander.” But for all his off-putting and impolitic utterances (in a blog post about Lululemon’s origins, he infamously linked the use of birth control to rising divorce rates, and claimed this led to his future market), he has a kind of genius for forecasting trends and assessing the human impulses — vanity, insecurity, the yearning for perfection — that make people pay more for something they could buy much cheaper elsewhere.

Clearly Mr. Wilson is getting ready to reboot, but has not yet figured out he’s best in the background.

You can also check out the Amy Wallace interview with Madeline Brand on our local superstation, KCRW–on Brand’s show, Press Play.

Posted by Bobbie

The latest Lululemon fiasco is just funny

You can check all of Lululemon’s previous PR disasters right here.

Let’s be thankful the latest one is just funny — no sexism or racism involved. Well, maybe anti-Buffaloism, if there is such a thing. So this may not be funny if you are a Buffalo Bills or Sabres fan.

Check it out:

Lululemon Athletica Inc. (LULU) apologized to sports fans in Buffalo, New York, after it drew ire for the phrase “Wide Right / No Goal” spelled out in tile on the floor of a local store, a reference to painful losses that the city suffered in football and hockey.

“We want the Buffalo community to know that we have heard them and we are sorry,” Paul Zaengle, senior vice president of U.S. retail, said in an e-mailed statement. “We get that this didn’t land well, and we want to make it right. We have covered up the mosaic and are having it removed.”

“Wide Right” alludes to kicker Scott Norwood’s missed field goal attempt that ended the Buffalo Bills’ hopes for a Super Bowl win against the New York Giants in 1991. “No Goal,” meanwhile, evokes the Buffalo Sabres’ 1999 Stanley Cup Final loss to the Dallas Stars on a questionable goal.

Apparently there was a firestorm on the Twitter in response; it all began when a fan posted a photo of the tile/mosaic mentioned above.

Has Lululemon fired its ad agency yet?

Posted by Steve

What’s happening with Lululemon? Its founder is getting rich(er?)

If you don’t recall all the happenings with Lululemon, click here for on ongoing, occasionally reluctant coverage.

There’s some pretty big new news today, which can be summed up as: Founder Chip Wilson is rich. If he wasn’t already. Here’s the news via the New York Times:

Under the terms of the deal reached Thursday, Mr. Wilson, known as Chip, will sell half of his roughly 27 percent stake in the company to Advent International, a private equity firm, for $845 million. The retailer will also give Advent — which had previously invested in the company — two director seats, expanding the board to 12 members.

One of those new directors, an Advent managing partner, David Mussafer, will become co-chairman alongside the company’s current chairman, Michael Casey.

In return, Advent and Mr. Wilson have agreed not to wage a proxy fight for two years.

Pretty similar take is here from the LA Times.

Is anybody still buying Lululemon products?

Posted by Steve

Yes, Lululemon has another customer-relations problem

Feel like, to be consistent — as in keeping a six-day-a-week practice — we need to acknowledge that Lululemon once again is under fire for some corporate missteps.

This time, it’s all in reaction to the company’s trying to block customers from re-selling its clothing.

Here’s how the Vancouver Sun sums things up:

Lululemon has issued an apology after banning some customers from buying its products online for reselling its yoga wear on eBay or other websites.

The situation arose after Eric Lewis, founder of the blog LuluMen, said he was warned by the yoga retailer that he would be blacklisted from using their online store after he tried to sell a pair of new Lululemon pants on eBay that he had bought at a warehouse sale. He posted his concerns on the company website, prompting other customers to speak out against the policy.

Therese Hayes, senior vice-president, communications and sustainability for Lululemon Athletica, said in an emailed statement Thursday that Lewis was never blocked from online shopping, but admitted others were.

You can click on the above link to get more from Hayes. Short version: Supposedly they were trying to target people who did large re-sells. Uh huh.

Posted by Steve

Lululemon’s run of success may finally be coming to an end

Bikram backlash. Yoga patent lawsuits. Now, Lululemon’s losing stock value.

The Kali Yuga, for sure, right?

After Lululemon’s founder announced this past week he was stepping down as chairman, things haven’t taken a turn for the better for the yoga clothing company.

Check out this report from Friday:

Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s shares fell for a second day on Friday following a disappointing forecast from the yoga clothing company.

The retailer’s leaders said Thursday that its image problems are starting to take a toll on its business. The company also said that it expects a key sales figure to be flat in the next quarter and trimmed its outlook for the year. Lululemon also noted that customer traffic in its stores slowed in November.

[snip]

Lululemon also said that it now expects earnings for the year between $1.94 and $1.96 on revenue around $1.61 billion. That’s down from its prior forecast of $1.94 to $1.97 per share on revenue between nearly $1.63 billion and $1.64 billion.

Credit Suisse analyst Christian Buss lowered his rating on the company to “Neutral” from “Outperform” and dropped his target price to $59 from $78. He said in a research note that the weak forecast suggests demand is weakening for the company’s products. He said the company’s missteps, along with the increase of lower-price knockoffs, are hurting demand.

You think?

Posted by Steve

The thighs have it: Lululemon founder quits as chairman

Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon and the guy responsible for the series of recent gaffes — fat thighs, etc. — is stepping down as chairman of the yoga clothes company, the company announced Tuesday.

In I’m sure totally related news, no one today was surprised by this.

The company also has appointed a new CEO. Laurent Potdevin takes over for Christine Davis, who announced her plans to leave in June — before Wilson’s latest stuff but after the initial Lululemon-gate — that being the too sheer pants fiasco.

According to reports, Potdevin comes from Toms Shoes, where he served as president. And before that he was at Burton Snowboards, including a stint as CEO from 2005 to 2010.

On top of all this, if you haven’t seen the little bits of news here and there, there does seem to be a growing push-back against the company by former “Ambassadors” — those yoga teachers who get free Lululemon schwag — who are renouncing their ties to the company over its “non yogic business practices.”

As far as I can tell, these un-Ambassadors’ reasons range from the legit — not being comfortable with the Randian philosophy of the company as well as the public actions of Wilson — to the fairly silly — thinking that a company won’t put profits ahead of everything else, or at least on equal standing as “civic good.”

It is a business, after all.

Now, we can watch and see how that business does under new leadership. Drawing someone in from Toms seems to make sense: Similar core customers, similar “do good” image that has taken hits on and off.

Posted by Steve