In Defense of $100 Yoga Pants.

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yoga pants

There has been a lot of outrage lately about yoga and consumerism.

People are pissed that yoga pants can cost close to (or above) $100, and it seems like yoga clothing and accessory companies are taking advantage of our desires to express our yogic identities.

In short, it feels to many of us yogis that yoga—a beautiful spiritual practice—is being commercialized.

For the most part, this is true.

But I would argue that there is good reason to buy $100 yoga pants if you want to really, truly practice yoga.

Bear with me for a second. I don’t mean just any yoga pants—I’m not arguing that $90 Lululemon capris help you be a better yogi.

I am, however, arguing that $100 American-made yoga clothes do.


Because of a not-so-little thing called sweatshops.

Look at the tags of your Athleta, Lululemon, Nike, Old Navy or Target yoga pants. They are almost definitely made in Asia, and you can be sure that they are made in sweatshops, where people work 100-plus hours a week (in shifts that last anywhere from 14 to 22 hours) for wages that are well below poverty level (around 20 to 24 cents per hour).

On top of that, laborers are regularly cheated out of their overtime wages.

According to the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, this isn’t even the worst of it. Workers aren’t just abused financially but also physically—beatings in sweatshops are commonplace.

And the employees in these sweatshops aren’t just adults.

They are often children as young as 10 years old. A British newspaper, The Observer, interviewed children working in clothing factories in India who worked 16 hours per day for no pay, children whose parents sold them to the factories, children who were beaten with pipes or who had oiled cloths shoved in their mouths if they cried.

Children who worked in factories with hallways flooded with excrement.

The BBC found these same working conditions in clothing factories in Cambodia.

And while Gap, the parent company of Old Navy, says they now have in-house auditors to monitor these abuses, they have not released any of the auditors’ reports, a failure to act that speaks for itself.

In Patanjali’s eightfold path there are five yamas, or ethical behaviors that yogis should engage in—nonviolence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), non-stealing (asteya), non-excess (brahmacharya) and non-greed (aparigraha).

Here’s how the yamas relate to yoga pants:

1. Ahimsa.

This yama clearly requires that you not buy clothes that are made in sweatshops and that you should not support companies that engage in violent practices.

After all, how can you wear $14 yoga pants made by a child slave and preach compassion and nonviolence at the same time?

2. Satya.

If one is to be truthful, then one has to acknowledge and accept that their clothing is not just a financial bargain, but an ethical bargain as well.

3. Asteya.

Stealing doesn’t only refer to taking something from another’s pocket.

It means obtaining anything in a way that isn’t honest.

Purchasing something made by someone who is paid only a few cents an hour, who still can’t make a living wage when working hundred-hour weeks, is far from honest.

4. Brahmacharya.

It’s easy to say that spending around $100 on a pair of yoga pants is excessive, that it’s unnecessary when there are so many cheaper clothing lines around.

But that argument requires you to assume that basic human rights aren’t valuable and that having ethically-made belongings is excessive.

5. Aparigraha.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says,

“Let your concern be with action alone, and never with the fruits of action.”

The implications here are clear—to avoid greed, one must be more concerned with how their possessions have come to be than with the possessions themselves.

This doesn’t mean that I think you should only buy $100 yoga pants (or the designer $450 pairs that are now being released).

But it means I think that if you really want to practice yoga, you should be aware of where and how your clothes are being made.

That instead of looking for the best financial bargain, perhaps you should be willing to spend a bit more to support humane, compassionate companies that need to charge you more so that the people who make your clothes can have the quality of life they deserve.



So You’ve Broken Up With Lululemon—Now What?


Author: Rachel Blumenfeld

Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Courtesy of Author

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Rachel Blumenfeld

Rachel Blumenfeld is the founder of Manifesta, an American-made curvy-fit athletic clothing line for women of all sizes.


9 Responses to “In Defense of $100 Yoga Pants.”

  1. The Other Bill says:

    You don’t need high-end yoga clothes to “really, truly practice yoga”.

    You can defend the “$100 American-made yoga clothes” over the $90 sweatshop-produced clothes, but you’re still buying into the commercialism either way.

  2. The Other Bill says:

    You don't need high-end yoga clothes to "really, truly practice yoga".

    You can defend the "$100 American-made yoga clothes" over the $90 sweatshop-produced clothes, but you're still buying into the commercialism either way.

  3. Sean says:

    Let us not forget the nearly $100 pants made by the author… Which I'm inclined to think are okay if the company pays living wages to all employees. Is this the case?

  4. ClaudiaV says:

    I usually wear a Tshirt and long gym shorts for yoga. Yep, I don't look cutie stylish but I am comfortable and defraying the cost of the yoga class itself [another issue!]

  5. chloesmith94599 says:

    An alternative view…

    By marginalizing the foreign made products with your concerns, you may also be eliminating the opportunity for legitimate companies and their employees to survive.

    Not every company outside the US is as you imply and not all in the US are ethical.


  6. Mark says:

    Here's the rub as I see it. We can read where the clothing is made but have no idea of the working conditions under which the clothing was sewn or assembled. It should be the company(ies) repeonsibility to inform consumers under what conditions the clothing was made. There are fair trade items out there, clearly marked, so why can't a similar effort be made with regard to anything made in places like China and Pakistan or India?

    The other rub, as I see it, is for us, as a group of yogis, to decide, do we really need to purchase such items? I know the saying, it's my money; I can do as I please. And yes, you can. I'm simply encouraging us to make a more conscious effort when buying goods.

  7. Paul says:

    If you boycott the goods made in countries that you may not agree with, then those people will have no job at all.
    Is that better?? Isn't this writer possibly being greedy by charging $100 for her yoga pants?

    Mostly, I found this article to be an ad for her company.

  8. S Kilgore says:

    We could make our own, it is not that hard.

  9. I am not sure I follow. You sited LuLu as one of the companies that purchase from Asian sweatshops. Are you saying that Asian sweatshop produced clothes are everywhere and we need to be a savvy consumer of products? Agreed! I am not sure that yoga pants, American made only, need to cost $90-100. Should we be a conscious consumer of all that we buy, or only yoga clothes and gear? Yes of everything! Are we? I dare say that I am not, although I try to be judicious. Striving to be conscious, present and impactful with our dollar is a path.

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