Shunning plus-size shoppers Is key to Lululemon's strategy


Back when she still worked at a Lululemon Athletica store in downtown Philadelphia, Elizabeth Licorish was struck by the contrasting ways the company showcased different sizes of its wildly popular yoga pants.

Most of the merchandise was presented out on the floor, hung on the walls, or folded neatly in cabinets for all the world to see. But the largest sizes -- the 10s and the 12s -- were relegated to a separate area at the back of the store, left clumped and unfolded under a table.

These larger offerings were rarely restocked, said Licorish, who worked at Lululemon for four months in 2011. The only styles available in those sizes were old designs whose fashion moment had long since passed.

"All the other merchandise in the store was kind of sacred, but these were thrown in a heap," Licorish told The Huffington Post. "It was definitely discriminatory to those who wear larger sizes."

Far from an accident, the exiling of larger clothing by Lululemon is a central piece of the company's strategy to market its brand as the look of choice for the stylishly fitness-conscious, according to former employees and consumer advocates. They say this treatment of larger clothes and customers reflects the culture that Lululemon represents -- one that falsely suggests skinniness is the paramount feature of health.

A similar mode of image maintenance determines what lands on shelves at many major retail outlets, experts say. The dearth of plus-size products reinforces an implicit message that larger Americans have been absorbing for years: Shop only at select retailers that welcome your body type. Plus-size women between the ages of 30 and 45 are supposed to peruse the aisles at Lane Bryant. Younger women and teens are expected to drive to their local mall and go to Hot Topic's plus-size specialty spinoff Torrid.

Lululemon declined to comment.



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stookartz site profile image  

8/15/13 7:28 PM by stookartz

I deliver to lulu lemon everyday in melbourne Australia banging girls jn there

hubris site profile image  

8/15/13 7:23 PM by hubris

Lululemon Doesn’t Want Your Fat Money, Former Employee Says Lululemon has attracted controversy similar to that endured earlier this year by Abercrombie & Fitch after it was alleged by a former employee that the brand deliberately underserves larger sized customers.

hubris site profile image  

8/15/13 7:20 PM by hubris

Although 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, only Michigan has expressly outlawed discrimination based on weight -- which makes sense given the state ties South Dakota as the 10th heaviest state in a country second now only to Mexico.

Kmonk site profile image  

8/15/13 5:34 PM by Kmonk

I don't get the mentality that anyone has the "right" to be catered to by a given store. The essence of capitalism is the ability of the consumer to choose where to spend their money. If you don't like a store for ANY reason, you can express your distaste by withholding your sales. Lululemon understands this, and has decided not to chase sales from the overweight demographic. The future success or failure of the company will determine the wisdom of this decision.

Thage site profile image  

8/15/13 5:17 PM by Thage

So they choose to not cater to a group that would result in using additional material, higher cost (lol) and overall most likely wouldn't be a big demographic for thier product.How many over weight women are paying $90.00 to show off their bodies "toned" look?I support them!

gregbrady site profile image  

8/15/13 4:50 PM by gregbrady

fat ppl are not a protected group. they can discriminate against them at will

Bananatoles site profile image  

8/15/13 4:47 PM by Bananatoles

I have a bunch of lulu stuff. Their quality is slipping but for a while they had the best golf pants and after work out hoodies around.

Tiresias site profile image  

8/15/13 4:41 PM by Tiresias

I think every store should have the exact same merchandise!

DaveFu site profile image  

8/15/13 4:38 PM by DaveFu

The Ol' Shooter loves his drunk party girls!