Lululemon’s recent blunder with their see-through yoga pants and their subsequent stock downfall has been quite entertaining to watch. The commentary and jokes about the scandal have been spot on. As a yoga teacher and a fan of Canada, I hope that this experience will be humbling for the Vancouver-based company.
Yoga wear has become more about fashion and less about yoga. The amount of yoga pants-wearing students seen around campus is vastly disproportionate to the number of students taking yoga classes at the plex. I don’t begrudge anyone from donning comfortable athletic wear to economics rather than power yoga, but I’m also not comfortable with the effect that Lululemon has had on the dynamic of yoga classes.
The fashion craze surrounding Lululemon yoga pants is tolerable outside of the yoga room, but it becomes a problem when it starts to affect how people feel about themselves in yoga. Yoga class is supposed to be a judgment-free zone, and Lulu has the power to get in the way of that. When I talk to people who have never done yoga before, I’m constantly amazed by the number of questions related to yoga wear. It saddens me when people express reluctance over trying yoga because they do not have a pair of reversible Wunder Unders.
Lululemon wants you to think that it loves yoga. Its stores offer free classes and many of the top yoga instructors serve as Lulu ambassadors or have in the past. While I enjoy Lulu’s products, I can’t help but quote Cuba Gooding Jr.’s famous line from Jerry McGuire whenever I step foot into one of their stores. Lulu wants you to show them the money, not a perfect eka pada raja kapotasana.
I hope that Lululemon can learn from this mistake. One thing that’s come to light in the wake of the “yoga pants shortage” is how ridiculous this obsession has become. Quality concerns have flooded Lulu’s Facebook page for months now. This scandal will hopefully allow people to take a step back and reconsider whether or not Lululemon is actually good for yoga.
The fact that Lululemon has become practically synonymous with yoga embodies the company’s contributions to the rise of yoga in North America over the past decade. The problem is that yoga and capitalism don’t exactly go hand in hand. Just as Bikram yoga has projected an inaccurate view of the yoga community as a whole, Lulu’s yoga is not indicative of what yoga’s all about. Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent once said, “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Hopefully Lululemon can rise from the ashes of its discarded see-through spandex to see the error in its ways.