[QUIZ] What’s the One Thing That Seperates “Gaiam Living” from “LL Bean”?

Boulder, CO

I’m sure you all know the seemingly everywhere brand of yoga lifestyle commodities, Gaiam, and its many yoga mats, yoga videos, and, yoga wears. But, were you also aware that Gaiam had an alter-ego known as “Gaiam Living?”

Yup. “Gaiam Living” allows the “conscious” company to shed its yoga-centric self and have a little fun in that muted-home-tones domestic decor sorta way. Think: driftwood, organic bedding, “rainshower” shower heads, and towel racks and you’re in the right frame of mind.

But, Gaiam is more than just Crate & Barrel with a yogic twist. Gaiam has a message:

“Wherever you are on your journey toward a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, Gaiam is dedicated to providing positive solutions that connect, renew and inspire. We invite you to live consciously, in harmony with the environment, the planet and the people who share our home.” [emphasis added]

A nice message indeed. And yet, judging from some of the info on the Gaiam Wikipedia page:

“Originally a catalog business, Gaiam now has products in stores worldwide (Target, Borders Books, Whole Foods Market), and is growing a strong e-commerce sales channel as well.” [emphasis added]

Obviously, the fast-track to “sustainability” is aligning yourself with mega-corporate behemoth Mom & Pop killers like Target and Whole Foods. I mean, I get it. “Environment” means “tree-lined suburban streets,” and “people who share our home” are not necessarily the ones cutting the grass.

But then it gets a little creepy:

“Gaiam was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 1988 by Jirka Rysavy, a few years after he founded Corporate Express to market recycled paper products. At that time, Rysavy was involved in three separate LOHAS companies, all within one block of each other in Boulder, Colorado. His vision was to serve the “conscious consumer”, a group subsequently named the “Cultural Creatives” by sociologist Paul Ray in 1996. Ray’s research distinguished a group of educated consumers who make purchasing decisions based on their values. Paul Ray now serves on Gaiam’s board of directors.”

Huh? Did I miss the memo? Is there some sort of “conscious capitalism” think tank meeting up at Boulder’s perfectly perfect Trident Booksellers and Café that I am unaware of?

Sit down and you may never leave…

Sign me up!

But, then something strange happened. The other day I somehow got an L.L. Bean catalog in the mail, a rag I admittedly, if embarrassingly, gravitate toward while squatting on the toilet (What can I say? I like flannel). And, while doing so during one particularly lazy session I happened to realize that both the L.L. Bean and Gaiam Living catalogs were in many ways indistinguishable when it came to selling approach. For example….

Both have people leaning on things looking off in the distance….



Both stack their similarly-named towels in a particular way….



Both like clocks….



But, both do not share in one very telling attribute.

Can you guess what that attribute is?


Need a hint?

Ok. I’ll tell you….

The difference between Gaiam Living and L.L. Bean is….









That’s right. Gaiam Living intersperses their lifestyle commodities with DVD’s catering to weight loss.

Now isn’t that nice of them?


  1. kc

    I assumed you were going to posit that there is nothing “conscious” or “sustainable” about rampant consumerism, but instead you decided to stop short of an argument. Hmm, okay…

    • Ugh… that sounds like a lot of work, kc! This one says enough in less time.

    • LShark

      Hmmm, I thought this WAS an indictment of rampant consumerism (as in: sell all this crap at big crappy unconscious stores like Target – the epitome of proof that rampant consumerism is alive and well in all sectors of our culture that can afford it). It’s too sad – there is really no human sentiment that the marketing dweebs won’t exploit to make a few bucks…

  2. So maybe conscious living means self conscious living. Fine lines.

  3. I’m with Zizek on this, replace Starbucks with GAIAM:

  4. Yoga Whelp

    “Is there some sort of “conscious capitalism” think tank meeting up at Boulder’s perfectly perfect Trident Booksellers and Café that I am unaware of?”


    It occurred to me that the politically correct affluent consumer demographic known as “LOHAS” is also a cyber-acronym?

    “Lost Our Hearts And Souls”


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