When it comes to athleisure wear, one of the most memorable brands would be Lululemon. Lululemon’s yoga pants are the crowd favorite and are well-loved by their legion of fans as well. However, Lululemon is also rather controversial, causing some to label it as a bad company. Why is Lululemon bad?
In general, Lululemon may be regarded as a bad company because it may not have acceptable ethical, animal safety, and labor standards. Lululemon has also been mired in various controversies over the years. However, the company has worked hard to improve its image.
This post discusses why Lululemon is regarded as a bad company. We explore Lululemon’s products as a whole before looking into Lululelmon’s ethical, sustainability and labor practices.
We also discuss if Lululemon harms animals and are their products worth it.
Why Do People Love Lululemon?
Lululemon is well-loved by its fans due to its focus on high-quality products with strong warranties. The brand is also associated with wellness, which made it very popular with Yoga practitioners. Lululemon is also well endorsed by celebrities, and Lululemon has trendy designs that many simply love.
Lululemon are one of the most expensive tights and yoga pants you can buy out there, yet they are very popular with many. If you wonder why it boils down to great marketing and also high-quality products.
Connection With Wellness
Lululemon has always approached athletic wear from a different perspective. Instead of pushing for an edgy and hyperactive image like many other sports brands, Lululemon focuses on wellness instead.
Lululemon projects an image of mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. By wearing a Lululemon, you join the community in pursuit of ultimate balance and inner peace. Lululemon also actively projects itself as the ‘grail’ brand within the Yoga and Pilates space.
This makes sense since Lululemon primarily makes tights, meaning they are more likely worn during yoga sessions.
Lululemon is known for its high-quality products. When trying a Lululemon for the first time, many wearers instantly described the thighs as ‘buttery smooth. It hugs your skin, does not budge, and quickly wicks moisture such as sweat.
This allows you to have a comfortable experience wearing a Lululemon. Compared to poor quality tights, it doesn’t leave you with wet thighs and extra weight on your tights to carry around.
Well Endorsed By Celebrities
Lululemon is also well-endorsed by celebrities. Lululemon has embarked on a program to have celebrities wear Lululemon on social media. Celebrities such as Meghan Markle, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, and Lucy Hale have all been wearing Lululemon.
Aside from that, these celebrities also post themselves wearing Lululemon on their social media, making the brand a lot more visible, popular and attractive to active social media users.
Trendy Designs And Cuts
Lululemon are also known for its trendy designs. When shopping for Lululemon, you can start from basic single-color tights to colorful ones in multiple colors.
Lululemon also come in multiple cuts and lengths. You can get high-rising tights that go over the belly button, mid or rise, similar to buying jeans. You can also opt for full-length tights, ankle, calf, or thigh length.
Why Is Lululemon Controversial?
Lululemon may have courted some controversy due to its founder, Chip Wilson. Some of the statements he released may be misogynistic and racist and may contain the intention to body shame people. These statements perhaps are aimed to generate people’s attention to the company and its products.
Aside from some of its issues, Lululemon can be controversial in another way. Its founder, Chip Wilson, is known to have a rather ‘colorful’ mouth that may seem to utter statements that shock people.
Over the years, Chip Wilson has uttered some statements that may contain misogynistic messages, racism, and body-shaming.
For example, when asked why some of the customers’ leggings were piling, Wilson mentioned that the leggings may not work for them as their thighs are big. Wilson also mentioned that Lululemon does not make leggings bigger than size 12, as it just costs more materials. These remarks may carry elements of body shaming.
Wilson has also made remarks that may be seen as racist. When asked why the company’s name is Lululemon, Wilson responded by saying he thought it would be funny since Japanese people could not pronounce the letter ‘L’ well.
Wilson has also mentioned that he does not mind using child labor in third-world countries since these children need wages. This has sparked accusations of racism and support for using exploitative child laborers.
Wilson has made some other remarks as well. However, he has also apologized for many of them, claiming they were taken out of context.
These statements may be uttered to shock people and keep people’s attention on the brand. Such a method is known as Shock Marketing, and Lululemon is not the only brand that utilizes it.
Is Lululemon Bad?
Generally, Lululemon may be bad. The reason is that although it has great products, the company may have sketchy records in many other areas. There have been accusations of abuse of workers and executives, and the company may not be environmentally sustainable enough. There are other controversies as well.
Lululemon tends to draw polar reactions from many who love the company and its products. At the same time, critics question the company’s practices, ethical standards, and sustainability policies.
Despite their products coming in at very good quality, many have questioned if the high price charged is ethical, as some may see this as excessive profiteering. Regular Lululemon tights may start at $88 if you have discounts. At the same time, other brands with similar, if not better, quality may charge much less, sometimes only half of Lululemon’s price.
Lululemon has been caught in controversies regarding labor practices. There have been reports in 2019 denoting how workers producing Lululemon clothing were paid as low as $95 a month, which is around a piece of their regular leggings. Lululemon also has been accused of being abusive towards their sales executives, setting unrealistic targets that are impossible to achieve.
Lululemon also is doubtful of its status on sustainability. Many of their products and packaging materials contain unsustainable, non-recyclable materials. Lululemon is also less committed to reducing carbon emissions as well.
There have been reports that some of Lululemon’s products may harm animals. Lululemon does not have a policy designed to reduce harm to animals. There have also been discoveries that Lululemon may use animal furs down to the first stages of production.
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Is Lululemon Sustainable?
Lululemon may not be sustainable as a business, as it uses many non-eco-friendly materials on its products and packaging. Lululemon relies heavily on Nylon for its products, which are not recycled. Lululemon’s sustainability statement is also ambiguous. However, the company is working on achieving sustainability.
When looking at how sustainable a company is, you may start by looking at its products, packaging, and operations. These areas may reveal if the company is a net consumer of resources or is actually a sustainable operation.
One thing to remember is that Lululemon is an international company with a presence worldwide. This means we need to judge its sustainability practices against the standards of other companies within its size, such as Nike or UnderArmour.
When looking into Lululemon’s products, many may contain non-eco-friendly materials. It could be seen that Lululemon relies on a large amount of Nylon to produce their products, and the Nylon is not recycled. A large amount of polyester is also used.
There is also a large amount of Pylon used. However, compared to Nylon, the Pylon that Lululemon uses is 75% sourced from recyclable sources. This is an improvement.
Many synthetic materials used in garments today, such as Nylon and Polyester, are essentially plastic. Synthetic materials may come with many environmental issues and are usually unsustainable.
First, these materials are made from petroleum and may be energy intensive to produce. Once discarded, these materials also may not degrade fully, meaning that they will forever remain an eyesore until they are either recycled or incinerated.
It was also discovered that Lululemon’s products contain fluorine, showing that Lululemon may contain Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
PFAS may be used in athletic wear due to its water-resistant and great sweat-wicking properties. Still, it also can negatively affect the environment. PFAS are known to cause reproductive and developmental issues in animals.
Lululemon uses poly bags to ship its products to customers. Polybags aren’t really sustainable products, as they are essentially plastics.
However, Lululemon sees that polybags are the best choice for now since it is tough and protects the product well. Lululemon also mentions that Poly bags protect their products from damage in transit, reducing returns.
However, if you think about it, Lululemon’s products tend to be soft garments. They do not break easily nor need to be handled with care as they are not as fragile as Lululemon claims.
This means Lululemon could consider using better, sustainable packaging, with just an extra few cents to upgrade.
If you read Lululemon’s websites, they do talk about using sustainable packaging. Still, the process seems to be at the research and conceptual level, not execution.
Lululemon is currently closing on achieving 100% energy sustainability. It has engaged with third-party companies to help offset its carbon emissions and also for renewable energies.
Lululemon offsets its greenhouse emissions by purchasing carbon credits and arranging Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) with renewable energy producers. PPAs ensure that Lululemon is using energy resources that are sustainable and renewable.
By purchasing carbon credits, Lululemon transfers funds to these carbon companies. These companies can then use the money to plant trees or conduct environmentally sustainable projects, helping them to offset their emissions.
Does Lululemon Have Fair Labor Practices?
Lululemon may have issues with fair and just labor practices, as it has been caught in controversies in this area. Lululemon was discovered to underpay their workers and subject them to abuse and unrealistic work targets. There have also been cases of unsafe work conditions.
Lululemon has been known to face a multitude of problems on labor issues, with itself mired in controversies multiple times over the past few years.
On the production side, Lululemon usually contracts companies to help make its garments, and these companies may sometimes subject workers to abuse and unsafe working conditions.
As a result, Lululemon scores low on the Fashion Transparency Index, scoring around 41-50%. Lululemon is also connected to sourcing materials from places with working conditions that can be grossly unfair, such as Xinjiang, China.
In 2019, workers working in Bangladesh to produce Lululemon reported having to work in unsafe work conditions and being paid very low wages. These workers were paid around $95 a month and were asked to work long hours to meet impossible quotas.
These workers also reported being subjected to abuse, from being called unsavory names to suffering from physical harm and attacks from their superiors.
There have been reports that Lululemon’s corporate culture can be cult-like and toxic, with employees being subjected to micromanagement such as mannerisms and smiling more.
Some employees also mentioned that there is a strong pressure to fit into the image of a typical Lululemon customer, to be a fit female. As a result, many Lululemon staff feel the need to subject themselves to working out and dieting to lose weight.
Sales executives of Lululemon have also reported being pressured to achieve unrealistic sales goals, resulting in anxiety, stress, and unbearable pressure at work.
There has also been a history of preferential treatment. Some staff members were known to be receiving special treatment due to their relationship with the top executives.
For example, the ex-CEO, Laurent Potdevin, granted a designer preferential treatment such as extended time off and first-class travel. This designer was known as Prodevin’s girlfriend at the time.
However, Potdevin has resigned from the company over this controversy, suggesting Lululemon does attempt to improve its corporate culture.
Does Lululemon Harm Animals?
Lululemon may be harming animals. This is because some of Lululemon’s products may use animal furs, down to the first stages of production. Lululemon does not have a policy designed to reduce harm to animals.
Lululemon primarily makes athleisure garments, meaning their products do not contain many animal-sourced materials such as furs or leather. That is one good thing that helps set it apart from luxury fashion product makers.
Lululemon also uses feathers accredited by the Responsible Down Standard. This standard ensures that the feathers used are derived from ducks and geese raised with good animal welfare standards.
However, some Lululemon products do contain wool and exotic animal hair. Some of these materials may be traced to the first stage of production.
This may be because Lululemon does not have a policy designed specifically to reduce harm to animals. As a result, Lululemon’s purchasers may not have these criteria in mind when sourcing materials for the company.
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Is Lululemon Improving Itself?
Lululemon is taking many actions to improve its reputation. It sets many standards and has worked on improving its ethical standards. This includes improving sustainability and working conditions and ensuring a better corporate culture.
Despite its many issues, Lululemon is working on improving on many fronts, from sustainability to ethical standards as well. For example, it has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its operations by 60% by 2030.
Aside from that, Lululemon is also working on introducing or tightening standards to ensure that they produce ethical and fair products across its supply chain.
Zero-Waste Distribution Centers
Lululemon is currently working on improving its distribution centers to make them zero-waste. These distribution centers recycle and ensure they do not generate waste from their operations.
Lululemon currently has about five distribution centers across the globe, with four achieving the target so far. The last one was newly opened in 2019, meaning it should be able to achieve the status soon.
One of Lululemon’s criticisms is that their packaging can be non-eco-friendly, with the use of polybags and all. As such, Lululemon has experimented with smaller packaging and using FSC papers.
FSC stands for Forestry Sustainability Council, a body that sets standards to help companies source sustainable forestry-related materials.
Sustainable Raw Materials
Lululemon has also been connected to using cotton from Xinjiang, China, where work conditions may be unjust. As a result, they have also been working on sourcing to help them source sustainable materials.
This is done by setting standards. For example, when sourcing feathers, Lululemon follows the Responsible Down Standards. This standard ensures that the feathers are sourced from ducks and geese that are humanely raised. For paper, Lululemon relies on the FSC.
Improving Working Conditions
Lululemon has spent much time, effort, and energy investigating allegations and cases of unfair and unsafe working conditions. The clothing company has also taken steps to ensure their workers are being paid a living wage.
Lululemon also actively implements and enforces its Vendor’s Code Of Ethics to ensure that its vendors create a fair, safe workplace and compensate their workers well.
Purchasing Carbon Credits
Lululemon understands that despite their best efforts, they may still be unable to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions. As such, Lululemon looks to compensate for this issue by purchasing carbon credits.
By purchasing carbon credits, Lululemon provides funds for environmental projects that reduce greenhouse effects, such as planting trees.
Quality Product Care Guidelines
Lululemon understands that its garments may use non-recyclable and non-degradable materials. As such, they also understand that one of the best ways to reduce their environmental impact is to ensure they remain used and worn for as long as possible.
This is achieved by giving quality and detailed care instructions to their customers. Lululemon hopes this may help the garments to be taken care of well, held up well, and worn longer by their customers.
In return, these garments may have a less environmental impact until Lululemon finds a better alternative.
Investing In Materials innovation
Finally, Lululemon also invests a lot in research and development in an attempt to reduce their products’ environmental impact. Lululemon aims to launch an ‘alternative to nylon’ by 2025. They also aim to use 100% renewable or recycled Nylon by 2030.
This is a very good move, as when they achieve that, Lululemon will be a very environmentally sustainable company, helping it to raise its image and reputation.