Lululemon’s “Apple Effect”


Lululemon was, for several years, revered as one of the leaders in fast expansion and growth. They had the so called “Apple effect” over all of the younger half of society. The “Apple effect” is the cool factor that completely encapsulates a whole generation, lululemon was that company for the women’s athletic apparel industry. They essentially created an entire new industry, the “athletic leisure” industry. They were nearly unstoppable until about 3 years ago when their founder and CEO Chip Wilson say some very shocking and inappropriate things about the effect a woman’s weight has on the lululemon fabric. This wasn’t a subtle thing that was just a blip on everyone’s radar, this had huge implications on lululemon’s business over the course of the next 3 years.

In my opinion and in the opinion of many other people, the comments by the CEO are not the only reason why people stopped buying their product. I think that people just simply took a little bit of a closer look into the company and why it was all that great and found some things that weren’t as pleasing as they might seem. According to several blogs about Lululemon I wasn’t the only one who thought about it this way. Kimberly Lo of the elephant journal said “In a nutshell, the combination of shoddy workmanship and poor working conditions of its workers was the reason I stopped buying from there.” However by digging a little bit deeper I found that Lululemon’s production wasn’t quite the only thing that was wrong with the company as a whole. After a reading a blogpost by Elizabeth Licorish of the Huffington Post I started to get very concerned about the way employees were treated at Lululemon.

Elizabeth worked at Lululemon in 2011 as a job in-between jobs, she hoped it would change her lifestyle for the positive. She soon realized that the not-trying-to-be-cool-but-is-cool culture that lululemon had was extremely false. The workers there were forced to eat healthy and were shamed for drinking anything other than water. She talks about an experience she had with another coworker who called her out for drinking anything but water. This blogpost really opened my eyes about lululemon who I once put on a pedestal. They have so much more wrong with their company than a CEO who makes generally sexist remarks on a regular basis. This has changed my opinion about lululemon drastically.

Links to blogposts:

Elephant journal:

The Real Reason I Won’t Buy Lululemon.

Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-licorish/lululemon-cult-culture_b_3690378.html

Photo Cred:

http://www.lululemon.com/stores/ca/london/masonville

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5 thoughts on “Lululemon’s “Apple Effect”

  1. Ben, I think you make an interesting point about Lululemon and their philosophy of how to treat employees and body image. I think it’s a good company to target because “LuLu” products are so relevant here at Bucknell. The comparison to Apple is important in the way that we love and worship these products but we do not notice the effect it has on image and society. From your post I think a good solution would be for Lululemon to rethink a healthier image and not only relay that to their customers but also to those who work and are apart of the team at Lululemon.

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  2. A company has relationships with many different groups of people, which includes the company’s employees and customers. It seems from what you’ve said that those relationships are not as good as they could be, and that Lululemon should put an extra focus on those stakeholders at the moment. With a lot of negative publicity for a company, the easy way out would be to do whatever they can strengthen their public relations and take away the focus that the company puts on other relationships it maintains, but Lululemon must make sure there is a level of respect towards its employees and customers before worrying about what their public image looks like.

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  3. I think this brings up some good points about a company’s mission and how they implement it in their culture and workplace practices – and where the line is drawn. This question comes up all the time with clothing, companies, fitness companies, etc. I tried to find some information on Patagonia possibly discriminating against people of size, non-athletics, “business people” and others in their hiring practices so that their workforce was representative of their outdoor/adventure vision and ethos (couldn’t find any but I imagine it’s out there). The question is how much of that is okay? How when does it become discrimination?

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