December 11, 2013

Lululemon’s Problems Are Bigger than Its Chief Executive.

Recently I was asked if I considered Lululemon Athletica a “buy” now that its troublesome CEO, Dennis “Chip” Wilson has stepped down.

My answer is not yet.

You see, a funny thing happened while Lululemon was busying answering reports that the company dislikes customers who were old, fat, black or had big thighs. Everyone else was busy making quality products and treating people nicely.

Lululemon’s stock opened on Tuesday at $71.83 and fell to $69.12 after Chip’s departure was announced. So I am not alone in those who think the company’s issues are more than thigh deep or related solely to its crazy CEO.

When the company first started making pants, honestly, they were amazing. If you fit into them, those earliest Grooves lasted forever. I still have a pair that is almost nine years old and look like new, even between my Amazonian thighs.

But I also have pants from the last few years that are trashed. They are pilled, see-through, and when I bend over the waist falls down giving me plumber butt. And they are nearly $100. Now there is “full-on” Luon and a new “light Luon,” which I suppose lets you choose how much you want to reveal.

Let me reveal this: $100 for yoga pants is a lot of money.

Therefore, once I noticed that my pants weren’t holding up, and the bras they were making no longer fit real breasts, and the mat became stinky and slick, and the shirts were not fitting correctly because the sizes were all off, and the salesclerks were a little snarky to me, well then, I went elsewhere. I understand snark, but the bottom line is I need a quality product.

This is Lululemon’s real problem. Their customers walked out the door.

And guess what? Athleta is placing their stores in nearly every single location where there is a Lululemon. Why did the Lululemon customer cross the street? To get a better fitting yoga pant.

Lucy, another fitness wear manufacturer, also has been coming on strong with sizes for almost all yogis and pants that have a nice modest waist. Kiragrace, a company that I promote, has ramped up its styles with colors and selection, none of it see-through. Inner Waves Organics is another company that I support because they manufacturer everything in the United States.

Lululemon’s new CEO is coming from TOM’s shoes, a company known for its philanthropy as much as for its product. This is an obvious ploy to quiet down the yoga community, and I think it will eventually work.

But first, the company has got to fix its product.

The bottom line is not only the one you see when bending over—it’s who will win the customer’s loyalty. Right now, Lululemon is like an ex who broke every promise they made.

If they want to win back their yogis, they will have to make the quality product that won us in the first place.

And be nice—that will help too.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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