Lu-lu land

Yoga clothes maker Lululemon’s shares swooned yesterday after independent tests called into question the claims it makes about one of its products:

According to product tags, one of its lines of shirts, called VitaSea, is made with a fabric that is 24 per cent seaweed. The company says the fabric releases “marine amino acids, minerals and vitamins into the skin upon contact with moisture.” It says the VitaSea clothing eases stress and provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial hydrating and detoxifying benefits.

But guess what? A lab hired by a U.S. investor found nothing special about the shirts:

“All we know is seaweed has known vitamins and minerals, that’s what we looked for,” said Ms. Otten who works for Chemir Analytical Services in Missouri. “We didn’t find anything out of the ordinary that wasn’t seen in a normal cotton shirt.”

Not having seaweed traces in my clothing strikes me as a good thing. Have none of these people ever been along a shore? And while eating seaweed may, in fact, bring all kinds of “anti-inflammatory, antibacterial hydrating and detoxifying benefits,” I fail to understand how something that skims the hairs on my arms could be expected to deliver the same. I’m not sure I need “bamboo, silver, or coconut” in my clothes either.

There’s another reason not to choose Lululemon, and that’s its association with the litigious, cult-like, brainwashing pyramid scheme empowerment organization Landmark Education:

Chip Wilson, the smooth operator who founded Lululemon back in 1998 and built it into a national retailing powerhouse now valued at more than $225 million, is a devoted Landmark convert.
Wilson so heartily believes in the Landmark approach that it has been made mandatory for management staff to participate in the training. Lululemon picks up the tab on the $495 tuition. Legally, companies like Lululemon have the right to ask this of their employees. If employees do not want to attend, they can be terminated as long as severance is offered.

Having worked with a number of Landmark devotees, I’m wary of any company that would insist on this kind of psychological pressuring for its employees.

Besides, I hear Lululemon’s clothes can’t actually reduce my stress — unless I actually go to a yoga class, too. What’s special about that?