Another Lululemon PR Fail
Lululemon continues its downward PR spiral with sexist yoga pants comments
Lululemon founder Dennis "Chip" Wilson is bringing the company's yoga-pants debacle back into the spotlight by saying the problem lies not with the pants but with women. During an interview with Bloomberg TV, when asked about frequent quality concerns from customers, he said the pants simply "don't work for some women's bodies."
Lululemon has been making headlines since March due to the "increased sheerness" of its black luon yoga pants, a pair of which will cost you about $100. It ultimately led the company to pull 17 percent of the pants from stores and its website.
Within weeks of the incident, Lululemon chief product officer Sheree Waterson stepped down from her position; in June, CEO Christine Day announced that she would be leaving the company as well.
"It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it," said founder Doug Wilson about the pants.
Day's decision to leave came right after the company chose to restock stores with newly redesigned black yoga pants that "have more fabric across the bum," according to NPR. By the time the new pants were available to customers, Lululemon's stock had fallen by 17 percent.
In spite of the redesign, the company continues to receive complaints about the pants, this time involving pilling of the fabric and issues with seams in addition to problems with fabric thinness. Instead of addressing the problem, Wilson — who often has colorful things to say — simply stated that the issue was with the consumer and not the product.
"It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it," Wilson said of the pants.
In addition to the litany of product complaints, the company has been criticized for shunning plus-sized women. Larger-sized items are often poorly displayed, seldom restocked and sized far smaller than other retailers'.
When asked if Wilson's statements implied that not all women can wear Lululemon yoga pants, he replied, "I think they can. I just think it's how you use them."
Lululemon just can't seem to catch a PR break these days. In Dallas, the NorthPark Center store caused an uproar with a window display declaring "We do partners yoga, not partners card" — an obvious reference to the Partners Card program of beloved Dallas charity Family Place.
In an effort at spin control, the retailer hinted at an existing relationship with the charity, which turned out to be false. Then, finally, to make real amends, Lululemon broke down and wrote Family Place a $10,000 check. At that point, however, the damage to the company's reputation had been done.