A Note of Encouragement to lululemon

By Lisa Christie
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lululemon excludes plus-size shoppersThere’s a story making its way around the Internet this week about a former lululemon employee who disclosed that shunning plus-size shoppers is part of the company’s business strategy (plus-size apparently is anything over size 12).

Sadly, the news is reminiscent of the recent Abercrombie & Fitch fiasco, in which the CEO unapologetically admitted that he didn’t want plus-size shoppers because they weren’t the “cool kids.”

But lululemon is different – lululemon has a great mission, and by all accounts, seems to be a great company. In fact, the company’s manifesto inspired us at Green Mountain to create our wo-manifesto.

To the powers that be at lululemon, I would hope a company that touts in its manifesto that “your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself” and “stress is related to 99% of all illness” would not want to create more stress for women or give them reason to dislike themselves anymore than they might already because they don’t fit the mold.

I expect a company that says “sweat once a day to regenerate your skin” to promote and enable all of us to sweat once a day.

This blog post is not a bitter commentary on the injustices of retail choices for plus-size women. Rather, I want to use this post to encourage lululemon to fulfill its destiny as the “values-based company” that it says it is.

This blog post is not a bitter commentary on the injustices of retail options for larger women. Rather, I want to use this post to encourage lululemon to fulfill its destiny as the “values-based company” that it claims to be. Community, sustainability and goal-setting are all evangelized on the company’s website.

In fact, under the website’s community section, it describes an “ambassador program” that is “extended to unique individuals in our store communities who embody the lululemon lifestyle and live our culture.”

I would argue that these women who happen to be plus-sized yogis probably embody and live the lululemon lifestyle more than many of the women who currently can pull on a pair of lulu’s yoga pants comfortably.

I don’t see any downsides for lululemon expanding its clothing sizes beyond size 12. We already know the “average American woman” wears a size 14. And we know many of these women are doing yoga. I don’t think people will stop shopping at lululemon because it’s not exclusionary. In fact, I would venture to say that most people who shop there would like to support their friends and families in living a lululemon lifestyle and be able to do it with their lulu pants, crops and hoodies on, too.

What’s your take on lululemon’s size policy?

Photo by lululemon athletica

5 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Kerry says:

    Thank you for choosing to send out positive energy and encouragement instead of hate.

  • Kasia Wilson says:

    I think it is their right to sell to whomever they want, but it is my right to not buy anything from them (not possible for myself, beyond yoga mats and headbands!) but for my daughter either. It is one of my daughter’s favorite brands, and I think she has a right to know their philosophy and she can decide if it is one she wants to support.

    If they don’t want to sell larger sizes under the Lululemon brand, why couldn’t they have a separate, really cool brand for plus sizes? It would be a tremendous hit, given the lack of competition in this area.

    • Lisa says:

      Kasia, you are right. They can sell to anyone they want. That is their choice. But it irks me that they call themselves a values-based company. If I could wear their clothes, I wouldn’t. I don’t believe that a values-based company should be exclusionary and can’t even address why they are. Also, why should plus-sizes need to be under a different brand? I don’t understand that. Petites aren’t usually their own brand, are they?

  • Maria Loomis says:

    All these things could be said about Lane Bryant. The company has a dedication to style and fit with a promise to also be fashionable and yet, they don’t cater to the skinnier demographic. I don’t expect all brands to cater to every demographic and they shouldn’t have to. It’s not going to keep me from buying their product or influence my opinion of their company. The term “values-based” is completely subjective. I hear that and I don’t think, “sells to everyone”. I’ve reviewed their website and values-based refers to the value they place on the relationship they have with customers as well as the value of their product. I guess all I have to say is…it’s okay. I am where I am because it’s my choice. They sell what they sell because it’s theirs. I don’t need them to sell to my demographic because of the way I live my life just like I don’t feel the need to change my life to fit their target demographic.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks, Maria. True- their term values-based company refers to sustainability, community, etc. I just don’t think that a self-proclaimed values-based company should be exclusionary. I’d like for them to address why they don’t sell to size 12 and up, instead of staying “mum” on the issue.

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