In the early 1970's, "the pill" came into being. The pill immediately transformed the sex lives of anyone under the age of 40, particularly teenagers. Suddenly females had total control over whether they wanted children and if so, when and how many. Females no longer had to "make" relationships work because with birth control came a sense of financial and life control. A sense of equality was established because women no longer had to relinquish their independence to a male provider.
Women's lives changed immediately. Men's lives didn't change however and they continued to search for a stay-at-home wife like their mothers. Men did not know how to relate to the new female. Thus came the era of divorces.
With divorce and publicity around equality, women in the 1970's/80's found themselves operating as "Power Women". The media convinced women that they could win at home and be a man's equal in the business world. Women put in 12 hour work days, attempted to keep a clean and orderly house, and give their children all the love they had pre-divorce. What they gave up however was their social life, exercise, balance, and sleep.
The 1980's gave way to Power Women dressing like men in boardroom attire with big shoulder pads. They went to 3 martini lunches and smoked because this is what their "successful" fathers did in the business world.
Girls raised by Power Women knew that education was essential because "when they got divorced" they too would need enough income to manage a house and a job at the same time. I term the daughters of Power Women "Super Girls".
Super Girls spent weekends with a divorced father who had no training on how to be with a daughter for two straight days. Fathers did what they knew best: they got their daughters into sports and became their coaches and mentors.
Super Girls were influenced by Saturday morning cartoons which traditionally featured four men wearing capes and lycra suits, running around saving the world. Cartoons started to show a female in the group, also wearing tight, stylish lycra and a cape. This sexy, powerful and equal woman became an icon to Super Girls who were doing what most teenagers do – dressing opposite to their mothers. They did not have the same need to look like boys or men to compete with them. In the early 1990’s, girls abandoned the grunge/skateboard/snowboard/male dominated sport look and moved towards tighter tops and more feminine colors.
The surf companies were among the first to establish a feminine look in girl’s athletic clothing. But in functional athletic clothing, only “dumbed down” versions of men’s styles were available for women.
Almost overnight, women went from 20% to 56% of the university population. By the 1990’s, Super Girls were finishing university where they excelled at school and sports. They then entered the work force en masse and tried to figure out how to compete in a 12-hour-a-day competitive job market and have a functioning family. Rarely did the two reconcile which created, and is still creating, an inordinate amount of stress on women today. Fortunately, there is a direct correlation between education and health. Super Girls knew that the best way to combat stress and sickness was to create natural endorphins found in athletics.
Breast cancer also came into prominence in the 1990’s. I suggest this was due to the number of cigarette-smoking Power Women who were on the pill (initial concentrations of hormones in the pill were very high) and taking on the stress previously left to men in the working world.
In 1997 or so, yoga emerged as an activity that was both accessible and non-competitive for its participants. It showed up at a time when women recognized the benefits of decompressing and living in the moment. Yoga provided the same great feeling as snowboarding or surfing but could be done in an hour and a half and close to home.
Ultimately, lululemon was formed because female education levels, breast cancer, yoga/athletics and the desire to dress feminine came together all at one time. lululemon saw the opportunity to make the best technologically advanced components for the Super Girl market.