Living in Vancouver, land of the Lululemon birthplace, I couldn’t help but notice the barrage of Lululemon news lately.
A couple of days ago, I spotted an online article commenting on the increase of Lululemon complaints on Facebook. It mentioned the quality issues that had been brought up a few month ago. I was surprised to hear this because I had not heard anything myself from anybody. When I looked myself, all I could see was the odd complaint, which was in line with what every retailer would receive.
I was really surprised that any of the media would even pick up on this story. There wasn’t any real proof of any continued quality issue. This reminded me of when some journalist interviewed a so-called insider (somebody who worked briefly at a Lululemon store) who claimed that the store did not display the larger sizes. I, myself visited several stores after reading that and saw absolutely no evidence of the larger sizes being hidden in the back. Was somebody saying that there was a real increase in complaints?
I was truly puzzled. What I first suspected was that somebody was trying to influence the Lululemon stock prices by planting sensitive nuggets and hoping that somebody would be outraged and fan the flames. From my years of working in the stock market, I saw lots of evidence of this-people trying to manipulate stock prices for different stocks.
Or, could be that some people are simply jealous of the company, of the success, of the lifestyle that they could never have? This reminded me of the backlash against the yuppies in the 1980s. Could some people resent the higher prices maybe? I just don’t know.
Sure enough, there were a few so-called journalists who wrote pieces pouncing on the big plus-size debate again. Some people lectured Lululemon on what their marketing strategy should be (such as bag design criticism). Some people would criticize them for anything and everything. But in my opinion, this is not at all fair.
Can anybody buy Lululemon?
Yes, of course. Anybody who wants to buy something from Lululemon, can. But should they?
Should everybody buy Lululemon?
Uh, probably not absolutely everybody. Let’s be honest here. There are some styles that are more flattering to some body types and not so much to others.
Can anybody wear Lululemon?
Yes, everybody can wear Lululemon. But, let’s be honest here. Some people look absolutely terrible in some pants. But there are some styles that welcome most body types with a looser fit.
Can the educator try to persuade a customer to try a different style which might be more flattering and be a better fit? Yes, but let’s be honest here, some people will not listen and buy whatever they want.
Can the educator try to persuade a customer to buy the right size? Let’s be honest here, probably not. If a customer is absolutely convinced that she is a size 6 when she is a size 12, that is what she is going to buy. But it’s also the same if a size 6 person insists on wearing a size 2, too.
So now, the customer goes out and wears the hopelessly ill-fitting pants. She can’t understand why the inner thigh area is pilling. Let’s be honest here, it’s not the fabric, it’s the customer stubbornly wearing the wrong sized pants.
Why do I think this? Because this has happened to me. What person hasn’t flattered themselves into thinking that they can fit into a smaller size than they really are? I have some pants that I know that I should not have bought too small which are straining at the seams and do pill because they are not large enough. Do I blame Lululemon for that? Let’s be honest here, I should have bought the right size, my vanity be damned.
Here in Vancouver, there are probably more people wearing Lululemon than anywhere. Let me assure you, there are some people who look absolutely great in their clothing and some people who do not do themselves any favors by wearing them. Let’s be honest here.
Should Chip Wilson be criticized for being honest? I think that he had absolutely valid points about Lululemon not necessarily being available to everyone. As a designer, I can imagine that Shannon Wilson did not design thinking that her pieces would fit everybody, that’s not realistic.
Did Lululemon ever say that they would be the mega super market of active wear? I don’t think so. I still believe that they are very successful in providing great active wear in a special niche, for yogis and runners for example. That’s what attracted me. That’s why I am willing to pay a premium for these clothes.
So come on people, let’s be honest here, there are other issues we should look at here, not the quality of the Lululemon clothing.