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Julianna Pijar / Gavel Media

Lululemon’s Problematic History Both On and Off Campus

Last week, about every student’s Herrd feed was flooded with posts about people flocking to the BC Bookstore to pick up pieces from Boston College’s new Lululemon collection. The drop included branded sweatshirts, shirts, jackets, and other athletic wear. The collection sold out in a matter of hours, truly confirming Boston College’s long-spoken-about obsession with the brand Lululemon and its products.

However, many Boston College students may be unaware of the racist, sexist, and overall bigoted history of Lululemon and its founder, Chip Wilson. Wilson has stated that he decided on the name Lululemon because he believed it would be funny that language barriers would prevent Asian people, especially East Asians, from being able to pronounce the multiple “L’s” in its name. Wilson has also made it clear that he believes it is important for his brand to outsource his labor overseas to children in third-world countries because his work provides them with wages. In addition to these atrocities, Lululemon’s founder has been vocal that women of certain body types should not wear yoga pants. Even within the company, female employees have reported not receiving the same advancement opportunities as male employees.

Besides politically problematic behavior, Lululemon, although establishing one of its core principles as sustainability, is not as sustainable or eco-friendly as it seems. It only uses some eco-friendly materials, and even though the company has stated it will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by the year 2030, it is unclear if Lululemon has even attempted to reach this goal.

Lululemon experiences a strange phenomenon of heightened popularity on the Boston College campus. While anyone is walking to class, it seems as though at least one of every five students is wearing one item of Lululemon clothing. Among female students especially, Lululemon is seen as trendy, fashionable, and almost a necessity to fit in on campus. However, Lululemon is not accessible to everyone, leaving some students feeling left out of the craze. Their clothes are abnormally expensive compared to other equivalent athletic wear brands: just compare Aerie’s $38 leggings to Lululemon’s $118 ones. Students can only take part in the Lululemon trend if they can “buy into it,” which leads to much of the BC student body feeling as though they are unable to fit in.

While Boston College students should neither be shamed nor judged for wearing or buying Lululemon, they should take into consideration the racist and sexist ideals that this brand’s founder promotes as well as the exclusivity it cultivates on campus. Students should also consider Lululemon’s history of “greenwashing,” a term used to describe brands that advertise promoting sustainability as a part of their marketing but do not take much concrete action to pursue it. A great way to sidestep and not actively support Lululemon’s behavior is to thrift or buy Lulu secondhand. This is also a more affordable option in addition to being a more sustainable consumer choice.

In the end, no one should be judged for not having bought clothes from Lululemon’s collaboration with Boston College, or from Lululemon in general. Perhaps they could not afford the clothing, they do not agree with the brand’s ideals, or they just could not make it to the bookstore in time.

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