Lululemon athletica

Lululemon athletica

Infobox Company
company_name = lululemon athletica inc.
company_type = Public
foundation = 1998
founder = Chip Wilson
location_city = Vancouver, BC
location_country = Canada
key_people = Robert Meers - CEO

area_served = Canada, United States, Australia, Japan
industry = Clothing
products = Clothing
revenue =
operating_income = profit CDN$-80.0 million (2006)]
net_income =
num_employees = 1700 [ [ lululemon athletica | about us | FAQ ] ]
divisions = lululemon athletica
subsid =
company_slogan = Creating components for people to live longer, healthier, more fun lives
homepage = []
footnotes =

lululemon athletica inc. (tsx|LLL, nasdaq|LULU) (pronEng|ˌluːluːˈlɛmən, with the last two syllables pronounced like "lemon") — self-described as a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company — produces a clothing line and runs international clothing-stores from its company base in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Company history

Chip Wilson founded lululemon athletica (usually referred to simply as "lululemon", "lulu") in 1998 in response to increased female participation in sports and in accordance with his belief in yoga as the optimal way to maintain athletic excellence into an advanced age. Wilson had previously made a foray into the sportswear business by setting up Westbeach Sports in 1979.

Wilson opened the first lululemon store in the Vancouver neighborhood of Kitsilano: it included a design-studio/retail-store. It also shared space with a fledgling yoga-studio. As of August 2008, there were 40 lululemon athletica stores across Canada, 38 stores and showrooms in the United States and seven stores and showrooms in Australia. The company continues to expand: it expects to open approximately 60 locations across Canada and the United States over the next two years.

Lululemon has a subsidiary company called OQOQO which focuses on clothing made from sustainable fabrics. OQOQO has a flagship store located in Vancouver and some OQOQO pieces are carried in lululemon stores across Canada and the US.

In 2005, Advent International (partnered with Highland Capital Partners), a U.S. private equity firm, bought a 48% minority interest in lululemon for a reported CAD $225 million, and former Reebok chief executive officer Robert Meers became the new lululemon CEO. Wilson, the founder, now has 42% ownership, with retail-staff owning 10% in stocks and shares. The company formed a partnership with Descente of Japan, to oversee lululemon's Japanese operations. However in mid 2008, lululemon closed its Japanese operations (three stores) to focus on the North American market.

lululemon athletica announced an initial public offering in May 2007 and became a public company on July 27, 2007. Chip Wilson rang the opening bell on the Nasdaq exchange in the United States that day [] .

The Retail Council of Canada recognized the company as the 2003 Innovative Retailer of the Year in its "small store" classification. [cite web | url = | title = Innovative Retailer of the Year | publisher = Retail Council of Canada | accessdate = 2006-08-15 Link inaccessible as of 2007-09-13.]

Controversy surrounding CEO Robert Meers

Shortly after the controversial press-coverage regarding Lululemon's use of the fabric Vitasea, questions emerged regarding Robert Meers, the company's recently-appointed CEO. Allegations emerged that Meers had significantly exaggerated his background and employment history in SEC filings and in corporate publicity-materials. [ [ Herb Greenberg » Blog Archive » Legend of Lululemon's CEO Grows ] ] Meers claims on the Lululemon website to have served as CEO of Reebok from 1996 to 1999 and that he had also served as the President of Rockport and Greg Norman. Critics have alleged that Meers was in fact only the executive-vice president of Reebok and had never become the President of Rockport or of Greg Norman. [ [ Herb Greenberg » Blog Archive » Some Questions about Lululemon CEO's Resume ] ]

Corporate philosophy and practices

lululemon has its main factory in Vancouver, Canada. In 2004 production expanded outside Canada and currently takes place in factories in the United States, China, Israel, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Peru and Indonesia. Presently, about 70% of clothing is manufactured in the third world.

lululemon athletica offers free yoga-classes, health-benefits and growth-opportunities, etc, to its employees. Controversially, [ [ CNW Group | CHATELAINE | Murder in Mexico: Chatelaine exclusive ] ] the company also pays for management-staff — and other employees who have worked for the company for over a year — to attend the Landmark Forum.

Unlike fashion-stores, lululemon athletica tends to downplay its role as a clothing-retailer. It refers to its sales-staff as "educators"; to consultative selling as "educating"; and to its garments as "components" to improve personal well-being.

In addition to its promotion of health-consciousness and environmental awareness, lululemon athletica strongly encourages employees to adopt the corporate philosophy, which endorses the Law of Attraction, The Secret (2006 film), and other products or philosophies informed by the 1960s human potential movement.

Lululemon fabrics

While lululemon uses a variety of fabrics in its clothing, it offers three "core" fabric types:

* Luon, a nylon/lycra blend that has a matte appearance, as opposed to the shine of most nylon/lycra blends. Luon appears in the lululemon's characteristic yoga-pants, and also in jackets and in tops. Some garments feature a lighter-weight luon called "lullure". A selected number of jackets use a "brushed" luon.
* Silverescent. The technology aims to add anti-static, anti-bacterial and anti-odor properties to the garment. Silverescent features in a variety of lululemon shirts, tank-tops, and socks.
* Vitasea, a blend of cotton, lycra and a seaweed-compound. It feels softer and functions more sustainably than cotton, and also prevents irritation. lululemon normally uses Vitasea in shirts, however it made a Vitasea version of a men's boxer short available for a limited time.

lululemon pre-shrinks its clothing, pre-shrinking garments with zippers before sewing the zipper in. All lululemon garments have flat seaming as a standard, which lessens chafing. The company sews a gusset into most of its women's pants, to allow for more range of movement and to prevent the pant from riding up in the groin.

Vitasea Fabric Controversy

In November 2007 "The New York Times" reported that it had commissioned laboratory-tests that failed to find significant differences in mineral-levels between between cotton T-shirts and the fabric Vitasea, used by lululemon in some of its clothing-lines [cite web | url = | title = Seaweed Clothing Has None, Tests Show | publisher = New York Times | accessdate = 2007-11-14] .

Following the publication of the "NY Times" article, lululemon commissioned a rush laboratory-test that it claimed confirmed the seaweed-content of its Vitasea line. [cite web | url =
title = Lululemon Atheletica Confirms VitaSea Fabric Contents and Testing Process
publisher = lululemon Atheltica Corporation | accessdate = 2007-11-17

Lululemon subsequently agreed to remove all health-claims from its seaweed-based products marketed in Canada, following a request from the Competition Bureau of Canada. [cite web | url =
title = Lululemon VitaSea Clothing: Competition Bureau Takes Action to Ensure Unsubstantiated Claims Removed from Lululemon Clothing
publisher = Government of Canada | accessdate = 2007-11-16


lululemon athletica welcomes and integrates customer and athlete feedback into its design-processes. Stores also hold events such as yoga-classes on a weekly basis.

Instead of traditional advertising-campaigns, lululemon athletica offers mutual arrangements with some athletes — as well as yoga and fitness-studios near its stores, fostering word-of-mouth marketing. One of the arrangements, known as the "Ambassador program", involves persons who qualify as ambassadors receiving a product-allowance in exchange for product-feedback and community-involvement.

lululemon athletica posts its company manifesto in its stores and distributes it to customers. The manifesto appears on the reusable shopping-bags that the company produces, and it also appears on a retail poster. The manifesto lists statements that describe the company's beliefs. lululemon also has a vision-statement: "creating components for people to live longer, healthier, and more fun lives".

External links

* [ Corporate Website]
* [ Goaltender] : lululemon's goal setting website.
* [ MyLululemon] : a personal blog reviewing some Lululemon products
* Diane Anderson: "Stretching for Success: Lululemon Athletica reaches out to every corner of its customer base to design versatile yoga apparel". "Business 2.0" magazine, 2006-10-10. Online at, retrieved 2007-09-13
* Alexander, Renee (2006). [ "Anatomy of a Brand"] , "BusinessWeek", February 22, 2006. Article on lululemon athletica.
* [ "lululemon athletica Gains Partners in Growth Equity Investment"] , December 8, 2005. Press release from Highland Capital Partners.
* [ Westbeach Sports]


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