How Lululemon went sour
The yoga clothing company's latest comments spark outrage and reveal a rotten core.
Apparently, if you're charging close to $100 for a pair of sweatpants, you can ignore the adage that the customer is always right.
In fact, why not do the opposite and throw that undeserving fattie under the bus, blaming her for your defective product? At least that's what you do if you're Lululemon (LULU).
Chip Wilson, the founder of yoga pants for lithe sorority sisters and Atkins-obsessed urban mommies, has found a way to continue to damage Lululemon just as people were starting to (sort of) forget about their overpriced and utterly see-through pants.
On Bloomberg TV's "Street Smart," Wilson decided to tackle the sheer pants scandal head on . . . by blaming not-skinny and toned women. "Quite frankly, some women's bodies just actually don't work for it."
Further digging himself into a hole (presumably filled with many angry women in warrior pose), he added, "It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it." Simply put, "they don't work for some women's bodies."
Wow. "What kind of position do you have to master to get your foot this far into your mouth," wondered Christina Chaey at Fast Company. In one fell swoop, Wilson managed to alienate the 35 percent of American adults who are obese, as well as the vast, vast majority of women who just aren't as yoga-toned as Lululemon would like their ideal, weightless customer to be.
"One would think a $10.1 billion company ostensibly devoted to health and fitness could find a way to inspire that market, or at least not insult it outright," wrote Kyle Stock at Businessweek. Especially when: It lost $67 million due to a recall of its yoga pants earlier this year; its shares have fallen 14 percent from September; and its CEO Christina Day, who is credited with much of Lululemon's growth, announced her resignation.
When you're in that situation, you wear kid gloves whenever talking about your customers and pray that you can keep convincing as many of them as possible that everyone's butt looks great in pants that cost nearly as much as a flight from New York to Miami.
Wilson's co-founder and wife, Shannon, immediately realized the major faux pas and tried to step in. Her recovery, though, was less than artful. Saying her husband's comments were not about weight, but about the treatment of the pants, she added, "Are you sitting on a cement ground?"
Unfortunately, if I'm spending $98 on yoga pants, they better last through a nuclear holocaust, let alone sitting on my apartment stoop.
While this is the latest big slip-up for Lululemon, it's not the first. Just last week, the chain sparked outrage in Dallas after one of its shops wrote on its window, "We do partners yoga, not partners card!" Partners Card is a discount card that raises money for a local domestic abuse shelter when you shop at certain stores (Lululemon, of course, is not part of it). Yeah, dissing charities that help battered women is totally going to improve your image.
But all these bad PR moments suggest something more specific than your run-of-the-mill corporate train wreck. Lululemon's true colors are shining through, but with all that ugliness, customers may not be hanging on for the pastel-colored ride. Lululemon may be known as the yoga pants of "Mean Girls," but if it wants to survive, it would be wise to not so boldly embrace that persona.
More from TheWeek.com
Yoga classes are at least 75% comprised of females. Just who are you trying to impress in your $100 yoga pants as you are in downward facing dog?
Target has a really good selection of reasonably priced exercise clothes for ALL body types. AND you can rub your thighs together and sit on a cement ground if you so choose without fear of overexposure.
I personally think even the largest of women look good in these pants...Of course, i just like looking at asses so...i;'m kinda biased there...lol
1. It does not make good business sense to only market your product to a small portion of the population rather than potentially having everyone as your customers, or at least all women, who would hand over their money in exchange for your goods. Why else have a business? Why have it publicly traded, if you are not interested in making money?
2. It does not make good business sense to sell a low-quality product (meant for exercise, no less!) and then blame its flimsiness on customers' weight and call it a "misuse" of the product. Not to mention charging 5X a reasonable retail price for the crummy pants! We are not talking about delicate glass Lladro statues meant to sit on a shelf, but exercise wear. There is no excuse for not using a higher-quality fabric that is opaque (not transparent) and strong enough to withstand a workout and washing. Costco sells very nice, high-quality yoga pants for $20 that could probably kick the **** of Lululemon's wussy pants.
the u.s is too accomodating. if you want to be hot and skinny, then work out and fit into these pants...otherwise quit complaining!!!
Overweight girls with beautiful faces can always lose weight, thereby becoming slim and beautiful.
Skinny girls with ugly faces can always gain weight, thereby becoming fat and ugly.
Beautiful faces are beautiful whether slim or fat, but you can't fix ugly.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Fed keeps important 'considerable time' language in reference to short-term interest rates, but dissents and dots leave doubts.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.