An affair with Lululemon

Postscript looks at the ins and outs of the unofficial uniform at Queen’s

Lululemon’s mandate is “to provide components to help our customers achieve their athletic goals, to lead balanced, positive lives and to feel amazing."
Lululemon’s mandate is “to provide components to help our customers achieve their athletic goals, to lead balanced, positive lives and to feel amazing."

Take a walk through campus and amidst the fall colours and limestone buildings you’ll find another familiar sight: a small logo, resembling the shape of a horseshoe, on the spandex-covered bottoms’ of Queen’s students. That small logo, and everything that it encompasses, represents what has become an unofficial uniform for many women: Lululemon clothing.

Founded in 1998 in Vancouver, Lululemon Athletica was created by a group of athletes in response to an apparent increase of female participation in sports.

The company attaches to its pants a promotion of living a healthy lifestyle, as their mandate is “to provide components to help our customers achieve their athletic goals, to lead balanced, positive lives and to feel amazing.” Girls at Queen’s must feel amazing because Lululemon products are, without a doubt, everywhere. It seems impossible to go anywhere without seeing masses of girls outfitted in this feel good attire.

Which begs the question: why has Lululemon clothing become a Queen’s dress code? Certainly it’s not their economical pricing. At about a hundred dollars a pop, Lululemon’s trademark spandex pants do not run cheap, perhaps Lululemon Athletica as a corportate body purports to be selling much more than spandex. The company’s website features a splashy red “manifesto,” which features gems of wisdom like: “Live near the ocean and inhale the pure salt air that flows over the water. Vancouver will do nicely,” and “Love.” The website also features a “luluzine,” yoga class etiquette and computer desktops featuring limber models in contortionist poses.

While some may be sucked in by the pseudo-spiritual mantra of healthy living, most Lulu-wearers are interested only in their comfortable clothing. In fact, some have such enthusiasm that there is a group dedicated to the celebration of Lululemon on Facebook where, if you too share this passion for the spandex pants, you can become a member of the “Queen’s Lululemon Appreciation Society.” Kelsey Witiuk, Art Sci ’09, a member of the Appreciation Society, sheds some light on the popularity of Lululemons in her post on the Facebook message board.

“Why are they so wonderful? They are like a bra for your ass,” Witiuk wrote.

However, as with all trends, there is opposition, and Lululemon is certainly not free from its share of opponents. Facebook also offers a forum for the haters of this controversial yoga pant. The “Lululemon Boycotters” group emerged in a counter attack to the appreciation society. Dennis Crawford, ArtSci ’06, is a member of the group, which states its manifesto as: “Lululemon is a stupid money-making fad.” Crawford used the group’s discussion board to express his hatred for the pants.

“It’s unbecoming. And it’s pretentious. It’s morally evil,” Crawford wrote. “I mean seriously, what has Lululemon ever done for the environment? How many more lemons have to die for your pants?” Along with the love and hate being expressed for Lululemons online is another group, which has formed an entirely different view of the pants: men. Their take on this yoga wear is manifested in a somewhat chauvinistic form of adoration. “I love girls who wear Lululemons” is a fan club group on Facebook, which claims to be the “original male-oriented Luluemon Facebook group”.

“We are dedicated to God's gift to the male eye,” the group’s page states. “Much more than a nice pair of yoga pants, seeing a tight butt in a pair of ‘Lulus’ should put any guy in a blissful state of nirvana.” Any woman who has ever worn a pair of Lululemons understands that these pants hug every curve of your body. And men love that. Comments from male Queen’s’ students have ranged from, “Well basically, I’m gonna sound like a meathead ... but yes, they do make women look good” to “It makes fat girls look like they have nice asses.” Clearly, Lululemons have a wide fan base, but have they become like the ubiquitous Ugg boot--overdone? In my opinion, hell yes.

Even Lululemon wearers acknowledge this fact, but as long as the women of Queen’s continue to love the way their ass looks in a pair of Lululemons, they will continue to be worn. As for upholding their position as a student uniform, the pants are now in rivalry with leggings, a fact which should make even Lululemon’s critics appreciate their presence.

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