Downdog meets Down Stock: The Fall of the Lululemon Yoga Pants

Lululemon

Don’t let their name fool you… yoga pants are not just for yoga. From the grocery store to ladies lunches, Lululemon captured the hearts of women and took their yoga pants from gym wear to everyday wear.  But of late, the pants have come up short and disappointed customers who have found themselves overexposed when positioned in Downward-Facing Dog.  The pants are thinner, with less coverage.

By now, you’ve heard of the pants situation in which the Vancouver based company finds themselves.  Their popular Luon pant, available in stores March 1-8, were made with fabric that was thin and provided less coverage than other batches of the same pant.  Founded in 1998, these beloved pants have helped the company grow to a billion-dollar business making up approximately 17% of its women’s pant sales.  While the company has used the same manufacturer since 2004, the thinness of pant is blamed on a snag in the manufacturing process, quality control and vendor management, which is a tough pill to swallow for consumers that pay close to $100 a pair.

Their stock tumbled and the company could lose close to $60 million in sales, allowing companies such as Under Armour and Nike, Athleta and even Target to snag some of their market share.   Customers are shifting their loyalties to companies like Athleta, where it’s reported that one can exchange or return their purchases, no questions asked.  A far cry from the alleged tactics used by Lululemon, who were reported to “make customers try on the pants and bend over” before accepting them for return. (A representative for Lululemon denies this claim).

While the company does offer other products, such as tops and yoga mats, the pant is what launched the company into superstar status in the yoga community.  It’s rare to take a yoga class without noticing the presence of the Lulu logo on the majority of women (and some men) in class.  (Note: if you’re new to yoga, don’t let this intimidate you from trying a class or feel that it is a “requirement.”  There are many a student in Old Navy, Target, UA running gear and Adidas).

In full disclosure, I’ve been practicing yoga for 13 years and an instructor for 4 years, yet don’t own a single piece of Lululemon clothing, so I can’t talk to the fit or my personal experience with the company. I am, however, interested to see how this plays out for the competitors in the market and how (and if) Lululemon will regain customer satisfaction.

What are your thoughts on the brand and the situation?

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