Companies & Industries

Lululemon Strikes a Familiar Pose: Foot in Mouth


Lululemon Pants Don't Work for Some Women: Founder Play

The workout never seems to end for the Lululemon (LULU) corporate communications team. Just as they finished cleaning up the PR mess that came from its see-through pants kerfuffle and the resignation announcement of their chief executive officer, founder Chip Wilson implied that plus-size people should shop elsewhere.

Feel the burn.

Wilson’s exact words? “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work. … It’s about the rubbing through the thighs, [and] how much pressure is there.” This was before Wilson said he’s “too wealthy” to take the reins again at the company he founded.

Wilson quickly backtracked when asked if the some women shouldn’t wear the company’s pants. “No, I think they can, I just think it’s how you use them.”

We get it: Lululemon is an aspirational brand for customers. Its products promise to make one’s butt look good, and in doing so, the company may see some reputational downside in having its pants (Groove Pant, $98) on people who frequent fast-food joints more often than yoga class.

Such strategy does have the obvious drawback: 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese. One would think a $10.1 billion company ostensibly devoted to health and fitness could find a way to inspire that market, or at least not insult it outright.

Even if Lululemon is set on ignoring one-third of its potential customers, it would be wise to be quiet about it. We can imagine the corporate communications training now: “Avoid the terms ‘thighs’ and ‘rubbing,’ or any combination thereof. ‘Ebitda’ and ‘namaste’ are fine.”

Kyle-stock-190
Stock is an associate editor for Businessweek.com. Twitter: @kylestock

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Companies Mentioned

  • LULU
    (Lululemon Athletica Inc)
    • $48.27 USD
    • -0.80
    • -1.66%
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