Hot pants delivering hot profits during recession

By Savannah Hall

They are everywhere — on the train, sitting next to you in class, on your best friend, on your worst enemy. Lululemon pants are taking over the world.

Lululemon has done the seemingly impossible and succeeded during the recession. Their sales went up a staggering 14 per cent this year to $97.7 million. They are continuing to open stores throughout the United States, 23 to be exact, in just a year’s time. No new Canadian stores were added, nor did any close, but all locations in Japan closed their doors.

Everyone is likely sick of hearing and reading about the recession, its affects and projections of its expiration date. But it is interesting to study how people act when the purse strings are tightened. How is it that when financial security is spiraling out of control, athletic pants are thriving?

There is a highly-doubted belief that these pants are actually used for physical activity. Physical activity and all its endorphin goodness would be beneficial during rough times like these. It would be a good way to relieve stress or occupy the time one used to spend working. Self improvement should be a more desirable option than using the pants as loungewear to feel sorry for oneself and their situation. It is likely that the pants are not solely used for their intended purpose; there are a few options as to why these hot pants are flying off the shelves.

One reason might be that the main consumer of the pants, and Lululemon brand altogether, are those with the disposable income: teens. With no idea what a recession is, just a burning desire to show off their premature derrière, teens hold Lululemon’s future in their hands.

One cannot forget the “cool” stay-at-home mom who will stop at nothing to be just like their teenage daughter or recapture their youth. These pants are perfect for dropping the kids off at school, grocery shopping, yoga class, cleaning, cooking and picking those pesky teens up once more.

It may seem superficial to worry about what kind of pants people are buying, but there is significance in these kinds of endeavors. Retail is a big part of our capitalistic environment — an indicator of our wants, needs and desires as a culture. The fact that a piece of fabric designed to be a bottom used during exercise is now seen everywhere on any given occasion says something about us. The fact that the Japanese decided Lululemon athletic was too extravagant a desire during these tough times shows this is a strictly North American phenomenon.

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