It’s been a sour year for Lululemon Athletica. First, the company was forced to recall nearly 20 percent of their yoga pants because they were basically see through. As if the massive product shortage wasn’t enough, they proceeded to mock a domestic abuse charity in Dallas. And when Lululemon co-founder Chip Wilson was asked to reflect on the yoga pants fiasco, he offered this gem: “Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it.”
He just said that. That’s what he told Bloomberg TV earlier this week, when his wife and co-founder Shannon Wilson were on the air to talk about their 60 second meditation technique that they probably charge $100 for. Shannon quickly went into damage control, spinning Chip’s message into a “we’re more concerned with people using our pants in the wrong way” kind of thing. She literally blamed the “see through” pants fiasco on the fact that people might be sitting on cement.
“Not every woman can wear a lululemon yoga pant?” said Trish Reagan, host of Bloomberg TV. “No I think they can,” said Chip. “I just think it’s how you use it.” Right.
It would be nice if that’s what the lululemon founders really meant. But this is the same elitist and discriminatory message they’ve been peddling for some time. This summer, the company posted a message to its Facebook page and acknowledged that their clothing is not meant for plus sized women.
“Our product and design strategy is built around creating products for our target guest in our size range of 2-12. While we know that doesn’t work for everyone and recognize fitness and health come in all shapes and sizes, we’ve built our business, brand and relationship with our guests on this formula.” Quote unquote.
As messed up as lululemon’s actions are, targeting the petite demographic and shunning the plus size is a marketing strategy that is working well. In lululemon’s stores, the 2-9 sizes are hung neatly on the wall or featured on mannequins in the window. The 10-12 sizes are left in the back of the store, unfolded and disregarded. It takes more fabric to make a plus sized pant, and therefore the company would have to charge a higher price, which is already pretty steep at $98. For a pair of stretchy pants.
This is miles away from the true point of yoga. Yoga is all about meditation, exercise, and cleansing. Despite the litany of PR scandals on lululemon’s resume, business is good, and as long as it stays that way, the company has shown they will do whatever they want as long as they can get away with it. Shop lululemon athletica at your own risk.
November 7th, 2013