High-end women’s fitness clothing company Lululemon Athletica seems unable to catch a break this year. In March, the company was forced to recall its line of stretch yoga pants after customers complained that the pants are see-through. It was revealed that though the pants’ thin material looks fine when standing, it becomes sheer when stretched during exercise. The recall included 17 percent of Lululemon’s fitness pants and cost an estimated $60 million.
While Lululemon surely thought that their “transparency” problems were behind them, the problem reared its head again in early November when CEO Chip Wilson appeared on Bloomberg TV’s Street Smart. When asked about the recall, he said:
“Frankly, some women’s bodies actually don’t work for it… It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, and how they much they use it.”
While Lululemon’s co-founder Shannon Wilson attempted to jump in and clarify that the $70 to $100 pants really became an issue because of the materials with which users came in contact, the damage was already done. He essentially blamed consumers for the problems and claimed that some women’s bodies are incompatible with their clothing. You can watch the video here.
Predictably, users of Lululemon’s yoga pants reacted negatively online. “A company that truly supports health and connectivity and community would never even think of blaming women and their bodies for the failure of crappy, overpriced products,” wrote one user on Facebook. Another said, “Please remind your company that if you are going to promote love and positive body image on their webpage, you probably shouldn’t say we are too fat to wear your pants.”
How would you have handled the situation? What would a better response have been from Lululemon’s CEO?