how lululemon came into being



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.

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37 Comments »


Hey Chip,

I met you a few months ago at the SSC while being toured around by the amazing HR Laura Appleton

This is a fascinating article!

Diana, a.k.a. one of the “Super Girls”

Comment by Diana Charabin — September 7, 2010 @ 7:22 pm


I’m not going to speak to the fact about how you have too much time on your hands to come up with the utterly sexist and nonsensical inanity written here, but will instead say that you should probably spend some more time around people who aren’t quick to validate your every stupid thought.

Comment by Jericho — March 12, 2013 @ 7:07 am


this is really offensive to people who support birth control and think women should have equal rights and opportunities as men, which is quite a number of people. i can’t believe this is public on the lululemon website.

Comment by A Woman on the Pill — March 23, 2013 @ 10:15 pm


What the …. did I just read?! University of Calgary really gave you a degree with writing skills this abysmal!!

In his spare time, when not writing nonsensical blog posts and doing other “all things Lululemon” Chip likes to conduct rigorous longitudinal studies on the rates of breast cancer and its correlation with the contraceptive pill. Thats why he is so equipped to advise on the matter. Its surprising the University of Calgary hasn’t awarded you an Honorary Doctorate in Oncology already! I am sure you’re time will come Chip!

Comment by Heather — March 26, 2013 @ 12:35 am


Is this board not moderated? How is this post still up – it’s incredibly sexist/reductionist. Not a good look!

Comment by WTF — March 27, 2013 @ 2:20 pm


You are entitled to your own opinion and sexist cockamamie theories, but it probably wasn’t the best idea to post them publicly as a representative of a company whose primary clientele is women. P.s., how the hell has this been up for 3 years?! Hahaha.

Comment by Miss manatee — March 27, 2013 @ 5:01 pm


I wonder how many “super girls” your company employs in top management positions? Your post implicitly supposes that the big burden of work and interacting in public life is too much for wittle women. Never do you suppose that corrosive corporate capitalism is harmful for men as well. Also thanks for charging $98 for sheer pants yet still employing child laborers in squalid overseas factories!

Comment by Rachel Kay — August 2, 2013 @ 12:04 am


I cant believe this nonsense is on the website. Thanks for your summary of women’s history (coming from a man). How the introduction of bc gave us freedom and control over our lives but how ironically is giving us cancer?!?!? WTF. This blog has no need to be posted on a business website where the majority of consumers are women. Dont forget his views on child labour… Nice they post a video of a MAS facility on FB today (even though their biggest customers are Victoria’s Secret and Gap). Please post videos of all the overseas facilities you use and comment on the Bangladesh factory collapse killing 1200 people. I do sometimes love your products, but I actually hate the company due to this kind of nonsense and POOR customer service with a 14 day return policy…if you really stand behind you product you would NOT have a 2 weeks return policy!!!! If my stuff is falling apart and dye leaking everywhere, who cares right?? Im the sucker who bought it.

Comment by ljg — September 18, 2013 @ 12:35 pm


Welp,

You’ve just lost a customer based on this blog post.

Congratulations.

Comment by Cat — November 7, 2013 @ 12:15 pm


Dear Chip,

Your theory on the origins of breast cancer makes about as much sense as Bernardino Ramazzini’s 1731 theory that the high rate of breast cancer among nuns was due to a lack of sex.

Even Hippocrates who wrote about breast cancer back in 460 B.C. would be laughing at you.

Comment by Allianora — November 7, 2013 @ 12:18 pm


Are you serious?

Comment by ML Reagan — November 7, 2013 @ 12:59 pm


Um. What? I was going to try to counter all the mindless drivel in this post, but I think instead I’ll just never spend money at Lululemon again. Perhaps Athleta or Title Nine will appreciate their smart and strong clientele.

Comment by a super girl — November 7, 2013 @ 1:07 pm


What the what. Seriously. WTF. I can’t believe this garbage is still up. This reductive and misogynist garbage. Does stress cause cancer? Really? You make me sick.

Comment by WTF — November 7, 2013 @ 1:27 pm


Dear offended people: this is satire.
Laugh a bit about the fact someone imagined this far reaching and outrageous ‘story.’

Comment by SGrillo — November 7, 2013 @ 1:42 pm


What kind of sexist garbage is this? “Power Women” and “Super Girls”? You’re not a scientist or a medical practitioner, so not sure why you’re speaking to the origins of breast cancer. You are an embarrassment to yourself and your company.

Comment by ellen — November 7, 2013 @ 1:53 pm


the author of this post is quite clearly an insane person

Comment by jen — November 7, 2013 @ 2:06 pm


“Fathers did what they knew best: they got their daughters into sports and became their coaches and mentors.”

Umm, what?

“In the early 1990’s, girls abandoned the grunge/ skateboard/snowboard/ male dominated sport look and moved towards tighter tops and more feminine colors”…

How much of this is reinforcement by marketing – which is exactly what you do?

In fact, take the world you came from – skate and surfing, where there is still a very clear, divisive and sexist treatment in the products and marketing that does NOT necessarily reflect many women’s (and many men’s) views of gender and tastes. It’s about sporty and fashionable lifestyle, yes. But it should be about performance first and foremost.

Beyond cut, what a brand considers ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ is still totally subjective and nothing more than gender-stereotype reinforcement BS.

I’ve also preferred the very basic and performance-oriented features on Lululemon workout clothes and do not like the frilly stuff at all. So does this make me ‘masculine’, in your eyes? I thought I was just being sporty and conscious of the body shape I’ve worked hard to get.

Even as training tights for guys have become popular, and Lululemon would be an obvious brand to carry a line, you don’t think it’s ‘masculine’? Nike and Adidas and pretty much every sport doesn’t see something like fabric as ‘sexed’.

Cutting clothes to flatter, with features that many women want, is brilliant marketing. But now reinforcing stereotypes with such a narrow POV like this one is mindboggling.

Comment by Lz — November 7, 2013 @ 2:11 pm


“Yoga provided the same great feeling as snowboarding or surfing” – wow, the person who wrote this has obviously never been snowboarding or surfing

Comment by Charlene Jaszewski — November 7, 2013 @ 2:19 pm


Well, after seeing this I will no longer purchase Lululemon. I make decent money and have bought products in the past, but I will no longer support a company run by a man who spouts such offensive nonsense. Women are not alien species and the way you talk about us is the most insulting and condescending thing I’ve ever heard. I will take my money elsewhere and make it my job to spread the word regarding this sexist drivel.

Comment by Katra — November 7, 2013 @ 2:24 pm


Wow, just wow. How did my stay at home, cigarette smoking grandmother get breast cancer in the 1970′s?

Comment by me — November 7, 2013 @ 2:36 pm


What absolute rubbish!

Comment by Sarah Reynolds — November 7, 2013 @ 4:36 pm


Thanks for mansplaining it all for us, Chip. You’re a tool.

Comment by Dangerous Lilly — November 7, 2013 @ 4:58 pm


You make great jackets and tank tops (let’s ignore the pants.) But you’re not much of a thinker, are you?

Comment by Violette — November 8, 2013 @ 11:22 am


Nicely put, Chip! I was about to get cancer in MY breasts from the stress of watching Power Women teach Super Girls about their bodies and their “right” to control them. (JK. I don’t have breasts, but I know all about it.)

Also, “Super Girl” is a Super Cute nickname! You may have kids in college, your own business, or a decades-long career, but you’ll always be a Super Girl to me, miss! Keep it tight (like yoga pants), Chip!

Comment by Chip's Bro 4ever — November 8, 2013 @ 1:02 pm


Do yourself a favor and enroll in a women’s studies class at your local university.

Comment by Kristen Howerton — November 8, 2013 @ 1:17 pm


Victim blaming women who have or have had breast cancer. Brilliant PR!

Comment by Tricia — November 8, 2013 @ 5:41 pm


Wow. I for one am never using the dollars I’ve earned as a Power Woman to buy your overpriced running tights again.

Comment by L Moore — November 9, 2013 @ 11:45 am


Ditto to what everyone above said. EPIC FAIL.

Furthermore, you have your history wrong the pill was approved by the FDA in 1960, and had been used by a million women in the three years of trials before that. The pill has little IF ANY effect on breast cancer, and in fact is a great preventative therapy for ovarian and uterine cancers. Women have been getting breast cancers for centuries, it’s not like it was a new thing during the 1990s. If people live long enough, we have a pretty good chance of developing tumors, because that seems to be part of being made of cells.

Your ideas concerning women are naive and sexist. We are not a monolithic group. We are individuals. Between this and the Ayn Rand shit a couple years ago, I am seriously considering never buying anything from Lululemon again. Which sucks, because you make decent looking sweatpants for men, and my husband looks great in them. Patagonia is a responsible company, why can’t you be.

Comment by Ashley — November 9, 2013 @ 8:17 pm


what a jerk. amazing that this comment area isn’t exploded with outrage over his insensitive views. i’m headed to tj maxx and marshall’s to buy my workout clothes and will fully pass on dropping anything in lulumon’s purse.

Comment by tracy — November 10, 2013 @ 8:31 am


Wow, you are so pig headed thinking you actually have got this whole “woman getting cancer from bc and smoking to be more like a man” concept figured out. Just lost me as a client after reading this. Am shocked this was posted on your website…a widely held viewpoint by the company??? Sick.

Comment by Laura — November 10, 2013 @ 6:52 pm


Er … do you have anything approaching “facts” to support your guesses?

Comment by Michael Walsh — November 11, 2013 @ 10:17 am


Dear Sir,

I will never patronize your company ever again. I am assuming that these are your own thoughts and opinions in this article since you referenced no sources, not even for your hard data. If this is truly your opinion, I’m ashamed to have spent one cent in your stores.

Women are where they are today because we are evolutionary beings just like every other organism. We have adapted. We have adapted to a world where men constantly tell us we are sub-par. We survive then we thrive. That is my own thought, my own idea–no sources necessary.

Disappointed,
Alexis

Comment by Alexis — November 11, 2013 @ 10:29 am


Well, thank goodness we have a man to tell us what we face and why we make the choices we do. But, what else to expect from a company who thinks when it comes to the ever-lower quality of his product, women’s bodies are the problem – http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/06/lululemon-chip-wilson-womens-bodies_n_4228113.html

Comment by Liz — November 11, 2013 @ 11:49 am


All this time, money, and energy we’ve been allocating to find a cure for breast cancer when all we needed to do was put our Super Girls in a pair of see-thru lululemon pants and send them off to yoga! Thanks, Chipper, for this fabu wisdom! What about us Super Girls whose parents are still married, have never had a smoke, or a bc pill, and we’ve still got cancer? What now? Skip chemo and just suit up in our pants and head out to yoga class? What an ass.

Thankfully, I’m a size 14. While I’m obviously not allowed to wear lululemon clothing, I can rub my gigantic thighs together to start an enormous bonfire of all of my girlfriends’ lululemon items. Maybe Chip will be able to see it from where ever he is drying his tears.

Best of luck to the PR team. At least ol’ Chip is providing you with continued employment opportunities!

Comment by DLW — November 12, 2013 @ 10:45 am


This is hilarious!

Comment by John — December 10, 2013 @ 4:56 pm


Ok people of the internet, calm down. I don’t really understand why everyone gets soooo worked up and offended by articles like these.
First of all, some of these words written are opinion… everyone SHOULD be entitled to their own opinion without being shot down. You don’t like it? Stop reading. One persons opinion is really going to make you stop buying products from a company?
Second of all, even though this article has no statistics behind it and is mostly opinion, alot of the facts in this article are probably true. Before you go and shoot down everything the author of this article has to say and call it sexist, I bet if you dug deep enough, you could find a lot of these things to be true. Honestly, being an “independent career woman” I don’t find any of this offensive or sexist at all. The author makes a lot of good points. “They went to 3 martini lunches and smoked because this is what their “successful” fathers did in the business world.” Well he’s probably right, I’m sure women went out and did these things because ‘that’s what successful business people did’. Again, this is an opinion people, the author is not saying “I have hard evidence saying this is what happened”. He is stating what the majority of women PROBABLY did. Yes there are women who probably didn’t go our drinking and smoking with their colleagues, never ended their marriage with divorce, etc etc.

Comment by Kaila — December 13, 2013 @ 10:18 am


the MAJORITY OF WOMEN probably were doing back in the day. Call it sexist call it what ever you want, its an opinion and everone is entitled to have one. Im just sick of hearing everyone getting so offended for every little opinion someone has.

Comment by Kaila — December 13, 2013 @ 10:20 am


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