Lulu of a faux pas.


Lululemon, Liz Lemon’s yoga company (JKJK), has a wonderful almost cult-like following. First of all, it is associated with a pastime many woman adore so it’s in the right contextual neighborhood. Second the clothing very much shows women’s bodies in their best light.  And if you think that’s not a trend, walk around NYC and count the number of ladies wearing black tights/leggings.

About a year ago, Lululemon had a quality issue and the social boards lit up with talk about the sheerness of the fabric…with what the wifus might call “getting your picture took” issues.  It was Lulu’s first quality punch and one it handled just adequately. More recently, an issue with fabric pilling in the thighs has come up and the company’s response has worsened.

The Wall Street Journal reports that CEO Dennis Wilson is suggesting it is not the quality so much as it is consumer misuse.  To wit:

“Quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it,” Dennis “Chip” Wilson said. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there.”

And someone with no financial skin in the game (he typed wryly), an analyst, concurred:

“Oliver Chen, a Citigroup analyst, recently tested some Lululemon yoga pants and also found customers at fault. The “product we purchased was not defective,” he said in a note sent to clients. Mr. Chen said transparency was only an issue when “wearing a size that is too small, causing the material to stretch more than its intended amount.”

Here’s the thing, and it’s something I learned from market mover Joe Nacchio back in the day, your customer is not wrong and your customer is not a dog (don’t ask).  A customer may not use a product to spec, but s/he is never wrong. Custies may need education about usage but “wrong” they are not. They’re simply exploring and daring your product — looking for new use cases, which is commendable.

So Lululemon, chill. Get over the hump, Women will forgive you after a while. Focus on what made you great. Treat your ladies with respect and start sewing. Peace.