Lululemon co-founder on too-sheer yoga pants: Not for 'some women's bodies'

Image: Lululemon yoga pants
In March 2013, Lululemon had to recall some of its popular yoga pants for being too sheer. Today

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By Laura T. Coffey

A few months back, Lululemon Athletica’s too-sheer yoga pants transformed some women’s workouts into unintentional peep shows. This week a company co-founder spoke out about the fabric flap, calling it a “mistake” on Lululemon’s part and also attributing some of the problems to certain women’s body types.

“Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for the yoga pants, Chip Wilson said Tuesday in an interview on Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” program.

“They don't work for some women’s bodies,” Wilson continued. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how they much they use it.”

In March, Lululemon had to recall some of its popular black yoga pants for being too sheer. Although the materials used in the pants were the same, the coverage was not, “resulting in a level of sheerness in some of our women’s black Luon bottoms that fall short of our very high standards,” Lululemon said in a press release at the time.

The pants taken out of circulation made up about 17 percent of all women’s bottoms sold by the chain, the company said.

Lululemon has been fielding complaints ever since, both about fabric that snags and pills easily and about customer service. The company shared a statement about those issues with last Friday.

"Quality is of utmost importance to us and we want to offer our guests Luon product(s) that they love," the statement said. "If any guest is experiencing an issue with their product that they believe to be related to quality, we encourage them to visit their local store or call our Guest Education Center so we can make it right."

On Tuesday, Wilson described Lululemon as a technology company that specializes in “an actual physical product”: women’s clothing.

“There’s one thousand things that could go wrong on a technical fabric, and when three of those things go wrong at any one time, something’s going to happen,” said Wilson, Lululemon’s former chief executive officer. “It’s almost impossible to build a quality-control case for each one of those combinations.”

At one point, Bloomberg’s Trish Regan stopped to ask Wilson: “Interesting, not every woman can wear a Lululemon yoga pant?”

“No, I think they can,” Wilson answered. “I just think it’s how you use it.”