The Name Explained
What’s behind Lululemon’s name? Company founder Chip Wilson has offered an odd explanation.

“The reason the Japanese liked (my former skateboard brand, ‘Homeless’) was because it had an L in it and a Japanese marketing firm wouldn’t come up with a brand name with an L in it,” he explained to National Post Business Magazine. “L is not in their vocabulary. It’s a tough pronunciation for them. So I thought, next time I have a company, I’ll make a name with three Ls and see if I can get three times the money. It’s kind of exotic for them. I was playing with Ls and I came up with Lululemon. It’s funny to watch them try to say it,” he said.


However, The Globe and Mail notes the company’s site says the name was the result of a survey.

Child Labour Comments
Back in 2005, Wilson’s comments about child labour “went over like a lead balloon” at a Vancouver conference, according to The Tyee.

The site reported:

“Wilson told the delegates third-world children should be allowed to work in factories because it provides them with much-needed wages. They also say he argued that even in Canada there is a place for 12- and 13-year-old street youths to find work in local factories as an alternative to collecting handouts.”

Ayn Rand Totes
Lululemon’s ‘Who Is John Galt?’ tote bags were a nod to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, which promotes individualism and capitalism over collectivism. But some customers didn’t appreciate the political message.


“Who is John Galt?” is the opening line of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, described in The Globe as a novel “which rails against government and advocates self-interest as a key ingredient of a better world.” Some Lulu shoppers felt Rand’s philosophy was at odds with their community-minded beliefs. Others, um, shrugged.

The company defended the product on its blog:

“Chip Wilson, first read this book when he was eighteen years old working away from home. Only later, looking back, did he realize the impact the book’s ideology had on his quest to elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness (it is not coincidental that this is Lululemon’s company vision).”

Seaweed Slip
In 2007, Lululemon came under scrutiny for its VitaSea clothing, which the company said was made with seaweed that provided health benefits.

A New York Times article challenged the company’s claim and said it found the material showed “no significant difference in mineral levels between the VitaSea fabric and cotton T-shirts.”

Independent testing “confirmed the presence of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in the VitaSea fabric,” a company statement said, but the retailer agreed to remove references to therapeutic benefits of the product.

Sheer Insanity
Lululemon’s too-sheer yoga pants were perhaps the company’s most infamous headache.

The company pulled its defective Luon pants from shelves in March 2013, following customer complaints that the pants were see-through.

Lululemon said it expected to lose as much as $67 million from the blunder. To make matters worse for the retailer, it was hit with three class-action lawsuits related to the recall.

Bend Over?!
Adding insult to injury? Some customers seeking refunds said Lululemon salespeople asked them to demonstrate the sheerness of their pants by bending over.

“I went into my local store to return my Astro pants and Invert crops, both purchased this month. I was asked to BEND OVER in order to determine sheerness. The sales associate then perused my butt in the dim lighting of the change room and deemed them “not sheer.” I felt degraded that this is how the recall is being handled,” according to one customer.

The company responded, saying it would offer returns “no questions asked.”

Pilling Pants
Even more quality complaints plagued the company following the sheer pants recall.

Shoppers weren’t impressed with yoga pants pilling and seams coming apart. And yes, some still complained that the pants were still too sheer.

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Chip Wilson On Women’s Bodies
Wilson put his foot in his mouth when he told Bloomberg TV that “some women’s bodies just actually don’t work” with their products, which have been known to pill or look too sheer.

“It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how much they use it,” he said.

Again With The Thighs
Not long after Wilson’s comment about thighs rubbing together sparked outrage, a Bethesda, Md. shop raised eyebrows when it featured a sign in its window that read: “Cups of chai, apple pies, rubbing thighs?”

The brand apologized for the controversial display, saying “We celebrate that thighs rub together — ours do too.”


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