Beyond the Baggy T-Shirt:
Lululemon Athletica was founded in 1998 and opened their first store in Vancouver, Canada in 2000. Founder Chip Wilson brought his experience with high tech fabrics, gleaned producing gear for surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding, to the emerging yoga-wear market. In fact, Lululemon did much to create that market and shape the idea of specialized yoga clothing and equipment. The company has grown rapidly, expanding throughout Canada and the United States and into Australia and Hong Kong.
The Cult of Lulu:
Lululemon has worked hard to integrate their stores into local yoga communities by hosting free classes and other yoga events. Each store also has a group of "ambassadors," local yoga teachers and other fitness instructors who promote the brand by looking good in Lululemon. But Lululemon's cult-like following comes from the ground up: many yoginis believe the company's pants, through a combination of proprietary fabrics, clever cuts, and Lulu juju, are the most flattering to their posteriors, aiding in the presentation of the highly coveted "yoga butt." In other words, they make your butt look good.
Nice Yoga Butts = Dollars and Cents:
A perfectly sculpted butt doesn't come cheap: one of Lululemon's signature products, the Groove Pant, rings in at $98 US. Given Lululemon's crossover appeal as lifestyle-wear (Lulu outfits have replaced sweats as the go-to gym/grocery store/school pick-up outfits in affluent communities), it's not surprising that Lululemon consistently turns a profit, even in lean economic times.
Not Without Controversy:
Lululemon has made the news a few times for reasons beyond their profitability. In 2007, an article in The New York Times revealed that scientific testing had shown that clothing advertised as being made from seaweed did not contain any of the minerals you would normally find in seaweed. In 2011, the company courted controversy again by emblazoning their shopping bags with a slogan (Who is John Galt?) from Ayn Rand. Not long after this advertising strategy caused many customers to become disillusioned with the brand, founder Chip Wilson resigned as CEO. In 2013, Lulu was again in the news, first for a manufacturing error that made their expensive pants see-through. Then Chip Wilson returned to tell us what he really thinks about women's thighs.