Lululemon (lulu) In the past, he had to contend with criticism of making clothes too “scrappy”. Back in 2013, the sportswear company had to recall new black pants amid frequent customer complaints that they were too see-through and exposed too much of the wearer’s body.
What would have been a simple recall turned into what retail history still remembers as the “pure pants scandal” when company founder Chip Wilson told a Bloomberg reporter that “some women’s bodies don’t actually work” for pants.
After the company lost a third of its market value in the fallout, Wilson eventually resigned as chairman of the board, and by 2015, left the board entirely.
Charcoal and Hotty Hot Short
While the recent scandal is related to something called a “Hotty Hot Short,” the length or tightness of the dress is not actually the issue.
Started by climate advocacy groups Stand.earth and Action Speaks Up, the campaign claims that Lululemon’s manufacture is harmful to the environment.
“As yoga teachers, we are asking lululemon to commit to phasing out coal and a 100% renewable energy source across its supply chain,” reads a letter to Board Director Glenn K. Murphy signed by more than 2,000 yoga instructors, students, and other people in the field from 30 countries. “[…] Lululemon’s dependence on coal as an energy source is extremely harmful to people and the environment, particularly in countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, where their products are made.”
Alongside the letter, activists staged a protest outside Lululemon’s headquarters in the Canadian city of Vancouver. While the campaign focuses on the broad charcoal issue, the “Hottie Hot” shorts were chosen by at least one yoga instructor.
“Burning charcoal to make high-rise hoodies and ‘hot-hot’ pants is unacceptable,” Tias Little, co-founder of Prajna Yoga, wrote in the letter.
Brands and environmental protection
Since its launch in 1998, Lululemon has built the brand image of a company that is sustainable, environmentally advanced, and “connected to nature.” In its latest sustainability report released last week, the brand said it was able to reduce greenhouse gases in its facilities by 82% instead of the previous goal of 60%.
It has launched a “Lululemon Like New” clothing resale program in stores in California and Texas, and emphasizes frequently its use of ethical suppliers.
“We are inextricably linked to ourselves, to each other and to our planet; each part lifts each other up,” the company says on its website.
While Lululemon’s stock is down more than 20% year over year, the company is currently in a period of rapid expansion — it opened more than 30 stores worldwide in 2021 and recorded 20% year-over-year growth and $1.9 billion in revenue in its most recent release. Results.
While the company has been significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions at its own facilities, figures previously reported by The Guardian found that Lululemon still emits more than 381,797 tons of carbon dioxide indirectly through the supply chain.
This is the issue taken up by environmentalists who argue that Lululemon’s image as an “environmentally advanced” brand falls short of what it takes to produce affordable clothing.
“Given the influence of Lululemon in the market, it’s important for people who buy their clothes to understand these two sides,” Laura Kelly, head of campaigns at Action Speaks Louder, told The Guardian. “The business is built with a grassroots approach to their marketing, and that’s established in the yoga community.”
A company spokesperson told TheStreet that Lululemon is “focused on helping create a sustainable apparel industry and addressing the critical impacts of climate change through goals and strategies that include a rapid transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
“Tackling the climate crisis in a meaningful way requires partnership and collaboration across our industry and with vendors, civil society and government stakeholders,” the spokesperson added.