Lululemon’s Selling of “Ostentatious Wellness”

Famously, the CEO of Whole Foods, another company much beloved by liberals, is also a Rand devotee and staunch libertarian. It’s easy to dismiss these men as flukes, or to categorize them as savvy capitalists who were able to spot which way the cultural winds were blowing and create a set of products that would serve the wants of the continent’s upperclass. But that hard-right Galtian spirit hasn’t seemed to turn anyone off. In fact, Lululemon has been so successful because, not in spite of, its founder’s combination of woo-woo New Age-iness with a sharply competitive spirit. It’s the same approach many American women (and men) bring to buying organic, to drinking fresh-pressed juice, and yes, to yoga. There is a boom market in ostentatious wellness these days, one that is underpinned by the same synthesis of seemingly opposite impulses—to achieve, and to bliss out—that drives Wilson. His customers are much more like him than many would care to admit. If you seek spiritual enlightenment through yoga and fasting, go to India or the 1960s. If you want to have the best-looking ass in line at Starbucks, try Lululemon’s free Saturday class and a pair of $82 Wunder Unders.

At the New Republic, Noreen Malone takes on Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, who earlier this month told Bloomberg TV that his company’s pants don’t work for some women’s bodies because of “the rubbing through the thighs.” Oh! This is a smart read that doesn’t really dwell on that very stupid comment. [TNR]

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