Lululemon is now offering free political views with every purchase of yoga pants.
While riding the F-Train this weekend I spotted two peppy-looking blond girls in ponytails and high-grade purple stretch pants holding totes bearing the words, “Who is John Galt?” The phrase comes from Ayn Rand’s wildly popular, divisive political novel “Atlas Shrugged.”
My first thought was, “That’s not really my thing, but good for them for at least having political views.” Jay-Z just came out with his “Occupy All Streets” shirts for Rocawear, and everyone who feels compelled to express themselves through clothing should have at it.
But when the girls got off, I noticed that the bags were not Tea Party-inspired totes, but rather shopping bags from the high-quality, jelly-bean-colored women’s yoga clothing store, lululemon. This struck me as odd.
Today, I logged onto lululemon’s blog, which explains that the company started using the bags countrywide at the start of November. “Lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson, first read this book when he was eighteen years old working away from home,” says the post. “Only later, looking back, did he realize the impact the book’s ideology had on his quest to elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness (it is not coincidental that this is lululemon’s company vision).”
While I found the “elevate the world from mediocracy to greatness” line to be a little preachy (especially at a store known for its great Yoga pants), it’s not surprising. Even Halls Cough Drops have tried to get in on the self-help trend. But it seemed to evade the bigger picture—that at its heart Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is a political book arguing for individualism, free-market domination, and government refraining from helping the sick and poor. Then I read on:
In “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand describes a society where people work and reside in government-controlled environments that are tightly regimented. Without realizing it, this control created a society of mediocrity; propagating a cycle of listless, uninspired existing as opposed to living. The character John Galt encouraged all of the world’s innovators and intelligent minds to go on strike from the increasingly controlling government in order to create a vacuum of brilliance, proving that independent creativity and free-will is critical for quality of life.
So the new lululemon bags are politically driven. The next question has to be, why would a company trumpet such a divisive political agenda on their shopping bags at a such a politically divided time? Won’t that be bad for business? And won’t that be the oposite of what Rand would have wanted? Maybe the assumption is that anyone who can afford $98 yoga pants must be a fan of Ayn Rand, but based on the comments under the post promising never to shop there again, that’s likely not true.
Weird choice, lululemon.