Lululemon & oqoqo in Chicago

One thing that’s driven me crazy since moving to Germany is the total lack of decent clothing for working out … and by decent, I mean that it had to fulfill at least one of my sustainability criteria: be made of organic or sustainable fabric, be recycled or secondhand, or be manufactured sweatshop-free (something that fulfilled all 3 would, of course, be my dream).

Over here, I can buy sweatshop free (though not otherwise uncontroversial) pants from American Apparel and I can grab t-shirts from the local secondhand shops. But I’m not a small-chested girl and I need something to keep my boobs from hitting me in the eyes during downward dog. Of course, I could always buy from those big-name athletic companies, but guilt overwhelms when I pick up the latest sneaker and know that of the $100 I’m about to drop, more money will have been spent on getting David Beckham to hawk it than to the woman who sewed it together; that same guilt would surely haunt me during corpse pose … not my idea of a good meditation.

Thankfully, my singular sports bra kept its elasticity until I hightailed it back to the States this summer for a vacation. And though I didn’t know it before my trip, I soon found out that a tiny little yoga retailer I’d visited in Canada several years ago had finally come down to the US from the great white north, bringing its leg warmers and yoga pants along with it.

Lululemon, which started in Vancouver as a yoga lifestyle store, recently opened stores in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Though I only got to visit the Chicago store, it was clear the place was built with the environment in mind – placards throughout said the floors were made with reclaimed wood, the paint was VOC-free, and there were compact fluorescents throughout.

Sadly, the store’s greenness didn’t extend throughout the entire clothing line … instead, I stuck to the side of the store featuring oqoqo clothing, a line that contains fabrics made with 75% natural fibers including hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton. It doesn’t just include yoga pants and tops; the summer line, anyway, had a few flowy dresses, linen-like pants, and plenty of shirts to wear on or off the mat. I walked away with a few finds that I’m proud to show off (and seriously, people are still getting the “This is made out of bamboo!” comment two months later, as if I’m some sort of walking advertorial) and a great reusable shopping bag with an inspiring manifesto (check out their website if you can’t make it into the store – it’s a great reminder of positive philosophy).

Unfortunately, their Flash website doesn’t let me show you the goods here – and the company’s strong devotion to community keeps their stuff in stores, but not online (they really want you to come chat with their uber-friendly salespeople) – but the next time you’re near one of their stores, which are sprouting up all over, check out Lululemon and see what kind of support you can get for all your yogic poses.