Lululemon goes Tea Party

The yoga pants maker is now selling bags with the phrase “Who is John Galt?” emblazoned on the side

Prog rock and yoga pants don’t have much in common—not generally anyway. The latter is a millennial fad tied loosely to exercise but dedicated mostly to making butts look good. The former, a much-maligned musical form that peaked with the Electric Light Orchestra. But two prominent Canadians from the different fields do share one love: the philosophies of Ayn Rand.

Recently, Vancouver’s Lululemon, makers of arguably the most famous yoga pants in the world, began selling bags with the phrase “Who is John Galt?” emblazoned on the side. The line comes from Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a 1957 classic and Tea Party movement favourite that pushes the virtues of radical self-interest. On the Lululemon website, a staffer wrote that company founder Chip Wilson discovered Rand when he was 18. Her work eventually inspired Wilson’s company creed: “Elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness.”

Reaction to Wilson’s Galt love has been mixed. Some angry fans have suggested a philosophy of getting yours and screw the rest doesn’t exactly jibe with the yogic message Lululemon otherwise pushes. “Are you effing kidding me. This is the lamest thing I’ve ever heard,” one critic wrote on the company’s site. Others, though, have been more kind. “I just heard about this and because of it, I just may become a new customer,” another fan chipped in.

If Wilson begins to feel the backlash, he may want to consult Neil Peart. The Rush drummer and fellow Canadian is known for his devotion to all things Rand. (The 1976 Rush album 2112 was inspired by a Rand novella.) If all goes well, the two could even collaborate on a prog-rock yoga album or a line of Rush-themed exercise mats. The slogan writes itself: “Today’s Tom Sawyer, mean, mean thighs.”