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I wanted to hate Lululemon, the cult-followed athletic-wear brand that has somehow brainwashed all my girlfriends into buying $100 yoga pants. Sure, they make your ass look plump and perky, but there's something that seems wrong about spending that much money on an article of clothing meant to collect thigh sweat. It must be some sort of drawn-out fad that's bound to fizzle, I thought, kinda like Juicy Couture velour tracksuits or Von Dutch trucker hats.
Then I met Carolyn Beauchesne, a stay-at-home mom in Orange who may be the company's most dedicated fan. She runs a blog called Lululemon Addict (www.luluaddict.blogspot.com), on which she posts news, reviews and rumors on the brand's latest products. The fansite, which gets about 880,000 pageviews per month, has become a global community of Lulu lovers, where fellow fanatics can ask questions about the fit of certain styles or announce sightings of hard-to-find items.
Beauchesne has spent about $15,000 on Lululemon clothes—pants, shorts, tanks, hoodies, jackets and other gear—since she was introduced to the Canadian brand five years ago. The addiction started after she had lost some weight and decided to upgrade her gym wardrobe. Her first purchase was a tank top. "The fit was dead-on," she recalls. "So I would go back and buy something else the next month. It motivated me to keep working out. I'd be like, 'Oh, I got a new headband. I need to show this off at the gym!'"
The 48-year-old former electrical engineer would sift through the Lululemon racks regularly at South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island and Irvine Spectrum, and soon, she was buying so many items she devoted a spreadsheet to keeping track of them all, a practice she insists is "not totally OCD." Just for fun, she created a website to chronicle her purchases.
What Beauchesne appreciates about Lululemon clothing is how much thought is put into every piece. "With most spin tops, when you bend over, your cleavage will show," she says. "Lululemon has one that has mesh in front. It covers up the titties, but you don't look too hot." Her go-to items are the Cool Racerback Tank and the Wunder Under, a cropped yoga pant.
Beauchesne also explains that Lululemon runs on a scarcity model—many styles are limited-edition, and once they're gone, they're gone. This gives the gear a fantastic resale value. "On eBay, you can get as much as or more than what you paid," she says. "That won't happen with other high-end brands."
Today, Beauchesne lift weights and spins, and she recently ran her first half-marathon—all while wearing Lulu gear.
I still don't know if I can justify spending that kind of cash on workout clothes, but hey, whatever helps!
This column appeared in print as "Lululemon Lady."