By Dick Wolfsie
A Canadian clothing company that manufactures yoga garb has a quality control problem that is alienating their fan base. Especially the part of the base that has a big fanny. Lululemon’s hottest item is a pair of stretch yoga pants that sell for $100. This is the perfect garment for men and women engaged in a transcendental endeavor to free themselves from material attachments. And the pants look really cool with a pair of $400 Louis Vuitton running shoes.
Here’s the problem. On Lulu’s company website there is a disclaimer that reads: “In some cases, you may experience extreme sheerness.” In other words, you can see through the pants. When your garment selection lists possible side effects, you may need to reconsider your wardrobe.
One consumer expert suggested that before you purchase the pants, you should try them on and bend over to see if there is a “see-through” issue. Of course, you are hardly in the best position to gather accurate information that way. Here’s where you might say to your BFF, “I have a really, really big favor to ask of you.”
A company spokesperson suggests you do a yoga maneuver called a “downward dog”to test the transparency of the fabric. I had no idea what this was, so I searched for it on YouTube. My wife came down to the basement when I was watching a video demonstration and now I’m forbidden to go online unless I have spousal supervision. One yoga enthusiast, presently employed as an engineer, said she doesn’t mind that her butt shows, but she dislikes the fabric because of the excessive static cling. This is what happens when you ask an electrical engineer a question about tight translucent pants instead of asking a structural engineer.
The controversy highlighted for me how many unintentionally funny things corporate people say under pressure. I offer these actual statements from recent news reporting as evidence:
“I want this situation to give the company an opportunity to rebrand itself,”said one Lululemon VP. A solid sales strategy, but perhaps branding should not be the first thing that comes to an observer’s mind when eyeing Lululemon’s customers herding around in bodysuits. Another company executive saw the situation as “a window of opportunity” for improvement. OK, there’s another unfortunate image.
A sales representative addressed the problem of defective inventory already in the stores. “The company will be pulling our pants down from the shelves.” When you utter a sentence that includes the phrase, “pulling our pants down,”you’re just asking for some tabloid journalist to take your quote out of context.
One clothing manufacturing analyst said that the company needs to deal with the problem and get some closure. Apparently, he forgot that with elastic-waist pants, closure is seldom an issue. Then he went on to say, “It is clear that they really have a good product.” He could have added, “They also have a product that is really clear.”
Another company official noted: “Investors have been plowing money into the stock, so we still have room to grow,” which is not only commentary on future potential but a nod to the biggest advantage of pants made of spandex. And finally, Lululemon’s chief financial officer added that analysts are taking a “wait and see attitude.”Men parked in front of the fitness center are adopting a similar approach.