For many who follow my blog, it is common knowledge that I have been a long time supporter of Lululemon Athletica since I discovered the brand about ten years ago during my summer dance programs in its native city, Vancouver, and have been loyal to the company ever since. As my disposable cash flow increased, the purchases I made grew exponentially, with my frequent yoga practice acting as the perfect excuse to stop by one of the many shops in my area on a weekly basis.
From its inception in 1998, Lululemon has been the company to watch, intriguing many with its rapid expansion, and becoming one of the world’s most popular active wear labels, with an ever-growing presence in the stock market.
However, over the last month, the company has found itself involved in three major mishaps – and surrounded by controversy. In early March of this year, Lululemon made the announcement that women’s luon pants were being recalled due to a quality control issue – the pants were too sheer, revealing more than the average yogi may wish to witness while a fellow classmate is bent over in downward dog or a forward fold. Following up on March 18 with a press release
, the company informed shoppers that 17% of all women’s bottoms were affected, costing the company tens of millions of dollars and sending stock holders into a selling frenzy.
A few weeks later, Lululemon sought to further encircle itself with media attention by taking part in an April Fools prank over social media, posting about the launch of new leather products on Twitter, Youtube, and the company’s main website. Greedy for an even greater buzz, the company insulted its long-time yoga-practicing, environment-loving, and health conscious supporters by suggesting new leather pants would be made from local cows, showcasing the story in a sick online video, interspersing photos of cows with employees cutting panels of leather in the design studio. While many may believe all publicity is good publicity, I personally believe this prank was ill timed and in poor taste considering the blow to regular shoppers’ confidence in products and standards only a few weeks earlier.
Most recently, on April 3, Lululemon announced the departure of their Chief Product Officer
who had been with the company for four years. And without providing a reason, it was clear to all of those watching that she was sent packing as a result of the pants scandal which hit the media two weeks before. In conjunction with the latest in Lululemon’s meltdown, RBC Capital Markets announced that it would downgrade the company’s target stock price
As Lululemon seeks to grow bigger and better, quality has slipped, values have lapsed, and its original cult following of traditional yogis is waning. Johanna Steinfeld, a yoga instructor in Calgary, AB, notes that the desire to dominate the market and attract a wider variety of customers has left many disappointed with the latest, and reminiscent for the more yoga-friendly products of the company’s locally-based past. She suggests, “There is no reason to spend $100 for a pair of quality yoga pants, and for that money, I don’t find the quality better than the yoga pants I buy at the Gap for $30.” So on the brink of a shift in the world of yoga wear, I find myself wondering if Lululemon’s misfortune has made available a space for a more reasonably priced, morally sound product for the disappointed to turn to. Watch this space for more.
Meaghan Elizabeth is a fashion stylist and blogger interested in high fashion, personal style, trends, designer collaborations and shopping adventures. Read more about Meaghan here.