On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lululemon, I don't Lololove you

Tomorrow, I'm breaking a longstanding ban on Lululemon and joining them for their running club.

Technically, I broke that ban last weekend when I bought some arm warmers.  You see, they have thumb holes and foldover mittens on their arm warmers...  It's so creative! and practical! and smart!  As I was purchasing the arm warmers, the sales associate told me about the run club and I was hooked.  I've been looking for a group to run with and the timing works for me.  I like their positive attitude toward fitness (even if I'm a little skeeved out by how often their adorers mention how great their butts look in the pants as their number one justification for $90 yoga pants - FITNESS IS NOT JUST ABOUT LOOKING GOOD WHILE SWEATING, LADIES).

What I don't like, and what was behind my longstanding ban, is their company founder.  Companies like Lululemon or American Apparel are cults of personality that can't be disassociated from their founders.  That means that if you have a problem with their founders - like, say, if you think it is inexcusable that the founder of American Apparel masturbated throughout his interview with Jane magazine and has been brought up several times on sexual harassment charges, it tarnishes your idea of the company.

With Lululemon, the company founder is a vocal advocate of child labor.  I don't have a giant problem with that, honestly, but I do have a problem with the origin of their name: Chip Wilson had every intention of expanding his company into the Asian market and argued that the repetition of the rolling, liquid consonant L in the name would be a marketing ploy.  Or, as he put it (and I quote): "It's funny to watch them [the Japanese] try and say it."

Not okay, dude, not okay.  It's offensive to your Asian clients, relies on the consumer's ignorance of the company's origins, and is outright racist.  As far as I'm concerned.

So, why am I trying their running club tomorrow?  I can't given a satisfying answer to that without sounding like someone who backs down from her principles.  Their store is close to my office, the timing works, and I want to run in the park in a group.  Um, and I've evidently unprincipled.  So it goes.

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