Updated: 8/9/2022 | How the Name lululemon Athletica was Created
Chip Wilson’s former business “Westbeach Sports” was a surf/skate/snowboard company. In the early 90’s, Westbeach sold about 5 million dollars a year of snowboard clothing to the Japanese market. North American name brands had intense appeal there and Japanese consumers paid a premium for authentic product.
Westbeach also developed a skateboard brand in the 90’s called “homless”. The company sold a few hundred thousands dollars worth of homless product specifically to the Japanese market before deciding to stop producing homless and concentrate solely on the Westbeach brand.
A big issue for Westbeach with the “homless” name was that it was impossible to trademark. The prefix “hom” means male in French and there were just too many “hom” like names to be different. Consequently the name was never registered and Westbeach stopped producing the homless brand.
Japanese consumers however did not forget the brand, thus producing a cult like following for the brand “homless.”
After a couple of years of pleading with Westbeach to continue making the homless brand, the Japanese Westbeach distributor asked to buy the name. The name “homless” had no real value to Westbeach and the Japanese yen was at its very highest. Japanese companies at the time were buying golf courses, name brands, and buildings worldwide so it was a no-brainer to hand off the brand.
After the purchase, Chip Wilson spent hours pondering the value of the “homless” name to the Japanese.
It was thought that a Japanese marketing firm would not try to create a North American-sounding brands with the letter “L” because the sound does not exist in Japanese phonetics. By including an “L” in the name it was thought the Japanese consumer would find the name innately North American and authentic.
Chip felt that the distributor had paid a premium for the “L” so he challenged himself to come up with a name that had 3 “L’s” for his new company. And lululemon was born in 1998.
The Lululemon name was chosen in a survey of 100 people. The company’s distinctive logo is a stylized A, a leftover from one of the rejected names. Although it looks like an Omega sign, it is not Greek influenced. Some people think it looks like a woman’s flip hairstyle.
In essence, the name “Lululemon” has no roots and means nothing other than it has 3 “L’s” in it. Nothing more and nothing less. It was just difficult for Japanese people to pronounce.
[Image credit from Fool]
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We have an entire resource page dedicated to everything lululemon related. Please check it out!
If there are any other topics you’d like us to shed some light on, please let us know!