Lululemon Tells Customers ‘Size Does Matter’
Walking down the halls of Seaholm, nearly every person traveling past is outfitted in Lululemon, whether they are wearing leggings, sweatpants, jackets, or bags.
The status of the Lululemon symbol has become a sign of Birmingham, much more than a simple status reminder.
Yet, how has Lululemon taken the standing of one of the most commonly worn clothing brands?
Ali Haag believes the reason is, “The majority of people in Birmingham have money so they can afford it,” Haag said. “A lot of people in Birmingham play sports, run and do yoga, and Lulu has the best clothes for most of those things.”
The company markets itself as a maker of technical athletic apparel for yoga, running, dancing, and most other sweaty pursuits. According to Lululemon’s website, quality is at the forefront of everything they do.
Haag agrees with Lululemon’s ideals.
“Lululemon is reliable and good quality,” Haag said.
But it was only this March in which Lululemon was sued and had to recall 17% percent of the women’s pants sold in their stores, after facing accusations of see-through black pants, according to CNN.
Light material is not the only quality complaints Lululemon has been facing. Pilling has been a common occurrence in the pants leading to small fibers that rise above the material.
“That’s only defects,” Haag said in response to the see-through pants accusations.
On November 11th, a sign reading “Size Does Matter” covered the main doors of the store in downtown Birmingham.
“I think it’s horrible for the reputation of Lululemon and a dumb business move,” senior Matt Almeranti said. “They could have gone about the issue differently.”
Responses in Birmingham have been varied with some in favor of the sign, some against, and some indifferent.
“I think it is completely fine to put ‘Size Does Matter’ on Lulu doors,” junior Emily Abbott said. “The company isn’t saying that size as in skinny or fat matters. They’re saying that the size you are buying is an important factor in the success of your product.”
Though the sign only remained up for three days, many people remembered it.
“I get that they don’t want certain people wearing their clothes, which is why they stop their sizes at a certain point,” Haag said. “But it’s unnecessary and insensitive to publicize it on their stores by saying ‘Size Does Matter’.”
In a survey conducted by the Highlander, 80% of 65 responders saw the sign.
54% of the responders were upset with the sign, but only 14% of the responders replied that they will no longer purchase Lululemon clothing.
Some of the reasons that students will continue to buy the clothing is that it is good for working out.
“Lululemon running shorts are my favorite, and the moisture wicking shirts are great for me when I’m on the track and its 80 plus degrees,” Almeranti said.
Lululemon denied a request for comment.
Only days before, Lululemon founder and chairman Chip Wilson was under fire for an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Street Smart.
“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work,” Wilson said in the interview.
The interview provoked various responses leading to an apology video made by Wilson posted on the Lululemon YouTube channel.
“I think it is a company that was at first classy and designed for dedicated, fit people, but now its name had been tainted,” junior Alex Crump said.
Lululemon has also faced allegations for discriminating against their idea of an overweight customer.
“Our product and design strategy is built around creating products for our target guest in our size range of 2 to 12,” Alecia Pulam, a rep for Lululemon told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.
Elizabeth Licorish, a former Lululemon employee told The Huffington Post this July that size 10 and 12 pants are purposely kept in the back in order to embarrass customers. In addition, Lululemon does not even carry the average women’s size of 14 according to The Guardian.
“Lululemon should have had their employees make sure when women exit the fitting room to ask them if everything fits well with a brief explanation that some pants fit different than others due to fabrics and dye,” Almeranti said.
Regardless of company tactics, Lululemon’s Birmingham location still has at least 58 loyal customers prepared to spend money on the high-priced apparel, according to a survey recently conducted by the Highlander.
Prices for their notorious yoga pants and leggings can range from $82-$108. The Scuba Hoodie Vest, for example is priced at $178 and when compared to The North Face Women’s Mossbud Acacia Vest at $70. The difference is significant between the competitors.
With the past months in mind, December 10th marked a day of sizable changes for the company.
Laurent Potdevin was named the new CEO of the company after Christine Day resigned in June. Leadership will transition to Potdevin in January.
“I’m so excited to be joining Lululemon today as CEO,” Potdevin said in a video welcome posted on the Lululemon YouTube channel. “Lululemon is an exceptional brand building outstanding technical and beautiful product.”
Board member Michael Casey will also become chairman of the company, after Wilson stepped down on the tenth.
“I think he didn’t want to deal with the reactions he was receiving to what he had previously said about size,” Haag said. “It’s completely his fault and he knew that by making such a powerful statement there would be consequences.”
For a company whose ethical behaviors are questionable, Lululemon has certainly established itself in Birmingham.