Archive for the ‘Lululemon’ Category

From today’s edition of Barron’s:

With all the momentum behind the name recently, t’s easy to think that yoga-wear juggernaut lululemon (LULU) can only head higher, and naysayers are simply peddling sour grapes.

Yet Gap (GPS), which today said it will open the first store for its Athleta brand of women’s active-wear in San Francisco, may change that, according to Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi.

“Athleta represents the first credible threat to Lululemon’s yoga apparel market dominance (wide moat business this is not),” Sozzi wrote in a research report. “Athleta’s product offerings are not the mediocre quality women’s athletic garb increasingly sprouting up at Target (TGT) and Kohl’s (KSS). It’s quality product at an attainable price.”

Sozzi also argues that Gap is “hungrier” than lulu, and its aggressive drive to grow earnings and revenue should make Athleta a formidable player in this lucrative market.

Barrons.com has warned investors previously about lulu’s sky-high valuation, as recently as yesterday, when the stock popped on an increased fourth-quarter forecast.  In November, we also wrote bullishly about Gap.

What do you think?  Will Gap’s Athleta finally be the brand to give Lulu a run for its money?


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This story was posted in several financial news outlets, and I found it quite interesting. I thought I would repost it for my readers. From financial reporter Robert Schmidt in today’s edition of Bloomberg:

Government officials often avoid conflicts between professional obligations and personal finances by divesting company stocks from their portfolios.

So it comes as a surprise that, along with the standard mutual funds, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner owns a small amount of stock in yoga clothing retailer Lululemon Athletica Inc., Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports in its Nov. 15 issue.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company has attained almost cult-like status with urban women who carry Lululemon’s reusable tote bags and assume the lotus position in its pricey workout clothes. The firm sells, for example, the $58 “Ta Ta Tamer” sports bra and the $98 “Groove” pants.

The Treasury secretary, a runner and basketball player, has never been known for wearing spandex. Turns out he purchased less than $1,000 worth of shares a few years ago to teach his two children about the stock market, press aide Steve Adamske says.

Geithner picked the company partly because of his now college-age daughter’s interest in yoga — and as a hedge against her frequent Lululemon purchases, Adamske says.

The Geithners have potential as stock pickers: Since Lululemon’s July 2007 initial public offering, the company has posted a 165 percent return. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, meanwhile, lost 20 percent in the same period.

Still, it hasn’t been an easy few years for the retailer, whose share price has fluctuated since the purchase, providing fodder for the family lesson plan.

Like most high-end retailers, Lululemon was hit by the financial crisis and the slowdown in consumer spending. The company’s stock trailed the S&P from September 2008 to September 2009, when it took off. This year it’s up 59 percent.

Says Edward Yruma, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets in New York: “This is good stock to own.”

Geithner might want to incorporate some of Lululemon’s quirky culture into the kids’ lessons.

Emblazoned across its shopping bags are manifestos like: “Friends are more important than money.”

Here’s one the chief U.S. economic policy maker may want to avoid: “Do one thing a day that scares you.”

Interesting stuff. Says a lot about a stock when the Treasury Secretary invests in your company. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  If you get a moment, check out the interesting discussion going on over at Elephant Journal on Bob’s discussion series on the Bhagavad Gita.

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There are a lot of very, very, very serious issues afoot in the American yoga community these days. Please allow me to refresh your memory. First, there was the brouhaha boiling between yoga and christianity. Then there was all the hubbub about sexy yoga ads. Not to mention, the hullabaloo over the commercialization of yoga by “rockstar” yogi, John Friend, and “slim, calm, sexy” yogini Tara Stiles. Heck, just last week, The Boston Globe featured a piece called “What has happened to yoga?” which discussed a recent summit of some pretty famous yogis who convened to discuss their concerns over the future of yoga in America.

All of this has caused a royal ruckus in the yoga blogosphere and in yoga studios across the globe.  Many of these debates have raged right here in virtual pages of our beloved Elephant Journal. There are those who say that these issues are just the natural growing pains of a tradition that is still relatively new to this country. There are others who are ready to exit yoga stage left altogether.

I say, now is the time – now more than ever – for a little kumbaya. And what better way to do it than by throwing your own yoga-themed Halloween party?!

Read the rest at Elephant Journal…It’s pretty funny.

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Photo Courtesy of The Boston Globe


In tomorrow’s edition Home and Lifestyle section of The Boston Globe, journalist Linda Matchan tackles some huge issues in an article entitled “What Happened to Yoga”.  She does it by traveling to Down Under Yoga, a yoga studio in Newtonville, Massachusettes, where Aussie owner Justine Wiltshire Cohen has assembled some internationally recognized yoginis – Natasha Rizopoulos and Patricia Walden among them – to not only teach some in depth workshops, but to participate in a summit on the future of yoga in America.

To illustrate some of the problems with yoga in America today, Matchen interviewed none other than Stephanie Syman, author of The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America. During the interview, Syman outlines the issues:

[Yoga is] recombined with dominant forms of the culture; it’s very malleable that way,’’ said Syman. There is yoga for every taste, energy level, and aspirant — hip-hop yoga, hot yoga, rock pop yoga, weight loss yoga, Christian yoga, even “Yoga Booty Ballet,’’ which bills itself as a dynamic fusion of yoga, booty sculpting, and cardio-dance. If there is any doubt that yoga has left the ashram and joined the mainstream, consider that yoga was part of this year’s Easter Egg Roll festivities on the White House lawn.

It’s also been “monetized,’’ Syman said. Practiced by celebrities, fitness buffs, and fashionistas, yoga is a $6 billion industry with some 16 million American followers. Many of those millions are pouring into the trendy lululemon yogawear stores — purveyor of $90 yoga mats, $25 yoga water bottles, $40 yoga towels, and other nonessential yoga accessories such as yoga thong underwear and an $88 “yoga mat carry system’’ with a “Helmet friendly design.’’ [So you won’t hit your head with your mat while riding your bike.]

The article also touches on the recent debacle, which I wrote about, regarding the sexualization and Westernization of yoga, which is obvious in many of the advertisements in the popular yoga magazine Yoga Journal:

Even the venerable magazine Yoga Journal, considered the bible for yoga practitioners, has evolved from a nonprofit publication founded in 1975 in a Berkeley basement to a glossy magazine with celebrities on the cover and sexy ads for pricey yoga gear, a trend that’s infuriated one of its founding editors.

“I feel sad because it seems that Yoga Journal has become just another voice for the status quo and not for elevating us to the higher values of yoga: spiritual integration, compassion and selfless service,’’ Judith Hanson Lasater wrote in a recent letter to the editor.

Yoga Journal’s editor in chief, Kaitlin Quistgaard, said she “completely respected’’ Lasater’s letter, “but we also need to run a commercial venture. . . . We are Americans and one thing Americans do is shop and like nice things. And one of the ways we identify ourselves is having a certain look. The yoga industry does support our desire to create self-identity through what we wear or what we purchase.’’

Cohen seems to set a new standard for taking yoga back:

Her website makes it clear where she stands on the question. “We believe that yoga studios should act in ways that are consistent with the teachings of yoga,’’ it says. “We will never sell plastic water bottles that go into landfills [becauseahimsa means ‘do no harm’]. We will never sell $150 yoga pants [because aparigraha means ‘identifying greed’]. We will never accept offers from companies to promote their gear in exchange for free publicity or products (because satya means “truthfulness’’). We will never brand, trademark, or pretend we’ve made up a new style of yoga.’’

The article is packed with the biggest issues facing yoga today.  Matchan even goes so far as to address what she calls the the “irksome” trend of Anusara yoga and yoga rockstar John Friend:

One brand, though not the only one, that seems particularly irksome is the growing Texas-based global empire of Anusara yoga, a relatively new hatha yoga system founded by John Friend, who teaches worldwide and sells clothing, jewelry, and music. He blogs, tweets, and characterizes himself on his website as “one of the most charismatic and highly respected hatha yoga teachers in the world.’’ Friend was recently featured in a New York Times magazine article, which he noted in a three-page rebuttal posted on his website was “the largest article on yoga ever published in a major newspaper. . . . For me, it is another clear sign that Grace supports Anusara.’’

“The minute yoga is packaged and branded, you’ve lost it,’’ Wiltshire Cohen contends.

You can visit Cohen’s website at www.downunderyoga.com, where she outlines her yoga manifesto.  You can also read the full text of the article here.  What say you, yogis?  These are some pretty huge issues.  I say at the very least, kudos to Cohen for tackling them.  Maybe we need some more summits like this one?

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Crazy Yoga News Week

There were some crazy happenings in yoga this week beginning and ending in Canada…

Le Ganj

Let’s start in Toronto, where The Daily Globe & Mail’s David Silverberg reported on the popularity of Ganja Yoga with Torontonians.  Sigh.  I don’t know about this one.  While I don’t disagree that marijuana may aid in treatment of some medical conditions, (see, for instance, the September 2010 issue of The Canadian Medical Association Journal, which published a McGill University study citing the benefits of cannabis use for treatment of chronic neuropathic pain), I’m just not sure about the brilliance of this idea.  To me, yoga has always been about checking in, not checking out . . .

Tthis week marked the beginning of the trial of Aspen, Colorado, yoga teacher Steven Jon Roger, who stands accused of misdemeanor unlawful sexual misconduct, for allegedly inappropriately touching several female students. Originally charged in April 2009 with two felony counts of sexual assault which were dismissed by Senior District Court Judge James Edwin Rutland, Mr. Roger is now standing trial for misdemeanor charges and is faced with 18 months in prison and registration as a sex offender.  Mr. Roger’s accusers allege that he inappropriately touched their lady parts while providing an adjustment.  Yikes!  You can follow this story as it develops at Aspen Times online.

Finally, following up on a story I reported last week, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that retail giant Lululemon isn’t doing as bad as had recently been predicted.  In fact, the company more than doubled its second quarter profits and had a 56% jump in revenue.  The Vancouver-based company plans to open 30 showrooms and 15 retail locations before the end of the year, and is no longer focusing simply on yoga wear, but running and dance apparel as well.

Oh, Canada!

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The blyogasphere is yet again abuzz with the issue of the sexualization/commercialization/westernization of yoga.  Last month, it was this very issue that got me to start thinking about blogging again when Judith Hanson Lasater issued her response to the ToeSox advertisement published in Yoga Journal featuring a buck-nekkid — well, okay, she was wearing a pair of socks — Kathryn Budig striking a series of various and sundry asanas.

The Toe Sox ad begged a lot of questions amongst readers of Yoga Journal and the readers and writers of yogacentric blogs (what I like to call the blyogasphere).  While we’ve gotten used to seeing half-naked chicks in advertisements for alcohol, perfume, and jewelry, why does the Toe Sox ad strike such a dissonant chord?  Is it unwise to advertise a yoga product with a young, nude woman?  Are we denigrating the value of yoga?  Does it make yoga and yogis seem shallow, superficial, frivolous? Or, are we being puritanical?  After all, isn’t the ad simply a celebration of the human form?  On the other hand, if it were a celebration of the human form, why not use model who is older, and more pleasantly plump?

Another rumpus has been raised over the ad for Tara Stiles’ new book, ‘Calm, Slim, Sexy’.  The cover of the book (see below) somehow isn’t as as bad as the full marketing campaign, in which Tara, while wearing more than a pair of socks, doesn’t seem to be sending a good message about body image.  Moreover, given the subtitle of the book “The 15-minute yoga solution for feeling and Looking your best from head to toe”, it doesn’t seem to be sending the right message about yoga.  What, you mean, you weren’t satisfied that the publishers put the “feeling” before the “looking” in the subtitle?

It is an interesting controversy, and one that stirs up a lot of emotions.  I, for one, can’t help but feel frustrated and saddened seeing these advertisements.  It somehow wouldn’t be such an affront if yoga were just a form of physical exercise.  But it is not.  And that’s the issue which seems to get most people ready to throw down.  I haven’t read it, but apparently, Tara’s book is quite substantive and in it she shares her personal stories of struggling with body image as a young model.  If her book is at all aimed at helping others through theirs, she certainly lost touch with her message on her way to the printing press.

What say you, yogi friends?

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The Associated Press is reporting that yoga retail giant Lululemon Athletica ® may have put its proverbial cart before its proverbial horse.  While the Vancouver-based company may have watched stocks skyrocket, and in June 2010 reported first quarter profits had tripled, it expanded its inventory just as the retail environment in the U.S. is getting weaker.  SmarTrend.com is reporting that Lulu has the lowest relative performance in the consumer goods sector.  Ouch!

While it remains to be seen just how big of a pickle Lulu has gotten itself into, I certainly won’t be helping to unload any of the inventory.  

How about you?  (Or, fun with WordPress poll features!)

Do you Lulu?

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