Indulging in the Lulu scheme

You’d think with how much their clothing costs, they would be able to afford a better window display. Elvert Barnes via Flickr

You too can pay an outrageous amount to look like Canada’s 2022 Olympians

The world’s most expansive global event is back, with another Canadian powerhouse company behind the gear campaign. Just after the conclusion of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, advertising outlets are hightailing it into campaigns for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing this January.

On September 23, Lululemon launched their Team Canada Olympic gear campaign. This had mixed reactions from spectators eager to dress like an athlete. Criticism is drawn from Lululemon’s “transformative” outfit construction. While some see the designs as a step into the future, looking sharp and futuristic, others are disappointed with them, saying they look like a Christmas ham. While both criticisms are completely perpendicular in my mind, they oddly make sense when you see photos of the Olympians – I hope they win big looking like futuristic hams.

All criticism I have seen in the campaign is valid. As a constant critic of capitalism, I completely understand the frustration with the pretentious idea that a piece of clothing can be life changing. However, before going into a rant about overpriced capitalist fashion that will ruin the environment, I should say that I have come to enjoy some of the designs and the emotional meaning behind the patriotic apparel. Sometimes you must pick and choose your battles, and I cannot believe I am defending dressing like a ham hanging in a butcher’s shop – but here we are.

Lululemon’s campaign as the Team Canada Olympic outfitter containing the slogan “Feel Canada” has drawn in criticism from Canadians. The campaign is set up to convince consumers that they can be “more Canadian” by purchasing the Olympic outfit. The entire campaign has been marketed to invoke nationalistic pride and convey the feeling of being a part of the larger picture: being Canadian. Invoking emotion in campaigns is a classic strategy that has been used in many sports’ equipment and clothing campaigns, as we have seen with brands like Nike and Under Armour – it takes an item and gives it symbolic meaning and emotion. Wearing the Team Canada outfits gives fans a rite of passage feeling as a supporter of the Olympics, and a sense of belonging to Team Canada. Each Olympic Games marks a new possibility. The innovation and resiliency that Lululemon is trying to market sucks in fans, making them want to buy their product. It is genius. Making an object a part of a larger whole is beneficial to generating income for a company. It can create customer loyalty because they represent a large extension of the population’s pride.

On the other hand, some are not buying into the transformative, innovative, and exciting themes Lulu is trying to uphold. Maybe it makes me pretentious to buy into this entire capitalist concoction that makes you look big, red, and puffy. A part of me believes that there is something a little more to the Lululemon haters out there. Many are labeling the campaign as cringey or a capitalist money grab, but what campaign trying to sell you something isn’t? Lululemon is the brunt of the joke this time, but other athletic brands are doing the same thing. Some of the criticism stems from the fact that a women’s athletic brand is dressing team Canada. That takes away from the issue, especially considering their effort to be inclusive to athletes of all genders and disabilities. Also, an incredible amount of feedback has been given from Paralympic athletes to manufacturers to make their clothes more functionally sound – a real A+ attitude from Lululemon.

Another beautiful aspect of the clothing line is that it is seamless between Paralympic and Olympic athletes alike. The coherency between clothing shows the equality between teams, which enforces Olympic ideals. Another zinger that hits the campaign is how it took them 18 months to construct puffy coats and leggings through detailed scientific evidence. Laying it on thick like this is a little bit embarrassing for stretchy pants, I will admit. When you put out how long and hard you work on something, it takes away the product’s beauty because you know that you are being oversold on it.

Honestly, I am glad they are putting in the effort to consider the needs of athletes. I hope it creates a special and functional product for them. Finally, I think that many are frustrated because of the cost of dressing like an Olympian. Prices for Lulu apparel have been steep as the alpine skiers who wear it for years. Paying $100 for a pair of leggings is awful, let alone $500 for a parka, and mostly for the maple leaf on it. Just because some people are not interested in it does not make me want it any less. I think it is a fresh and different design from anything other retailers have created, and I think it would be fun to wear to represent Canada.

Lululemon being selected to be the Olympic clothing sponsor for the 2022 Winter Games comes after the Hudson’s Bay Company’s 16-year reign creating and marketing Olympic activewear. Lululemon will overtake Beijing and the next three Olympic Games as the clothing designer, which makes perfect sense. Unlike the Bay, they are an activewear brand, giving them hands-on knowledge on practical and comfortable clothes for athletes. Lululemon was originally more of an athletic brand for women, but is now expanding to more consumer categories. They have begun marketing their clothing by developing their men’s section. Along with expansions in design, they have introduced more “athleisure” clothing that customers can wear off the field, even while hanging out watching Netflix. The campaign appeals to those who like to participate in sport as well as spectate. The brand has truly started to evolve in the year through pandemic sales promoting comfort and functionality, which is what people want to wear considering many are working from home.

I completely understand the criticism of the entire campaign. It is completely pretentious to think that a piece of clothing can transform you into a better, new version of yourself. I would like to think that people will pick and choose what to wear, making them feel good about how they look or wearing what their role model will don the day they compete in Beijing. I’m a proud Canadian girl through and through, and I will set aside my capitalist rage for two weeks to wear a $100 moisture wicking shirt that I could probably buy for $10 anywhere else.

You win this round, consumerism.


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