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Lululemon yoga pant controversy: Namaste turns nasty

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Andy Clark/Reuters

(Read caption) Lululemon controversy: A customer enters the Lululemon store in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, November 8.

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At last, women can find a Zen moment of truth in advertising as Lululemon’s sheer yoga pants return to shelves, bearing aptly phrased tags that read, “This is what celebrating failure looks like!"

When it comes to taking a good long look at failure, Lululemon Athletica and its founder Chip Wilson have given us an eye full, beginning with the unintentionally see-through pants and ending with Mr. Wilson’s choice to blame women’s thighs for some less than fabulous fabric choices made by the company.

First the $98 pants were recalled in March for being too sheer and then in July a reinforced version, dubbed “Full-On Luon,” replaced them only to be criticized by women for “pilling with wear,” according to Business Insider.

Wilson let fly the following comments during an interview on Bloomberg TV: "Quite frankly some women's bodies just don't actually work for it. They don't work for some women's bodies...it's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it."

Now a new incarnation of the pants are on shelves for $92, re-branded as “Second Chance” pants. A tag on the bottom reads: "These pants were inspired by a need to find functional and beautiful design solutions for our sheer pants. This is what celebrating failure looks like!"

However, after failing to take ownership of poor quality control not once but twice and insulting women’s bodies, it would seem that in calling them “Second Chance pants” Lululemon missed out on some basic math and parenting rules.

The rules: 1. A second chance comes after one error, not several. 2. You don’t turn Namaste into nasty unless you want a serious time out. 3. Never blame mommy’s thighs for anything, ever.

I am one of the many parents who does yoga with her children and, even if I could afford a pair of $98 pants, they wouldn’t come from a company that behaves as Lululemon has.

A while back it would have seemed impossible for any CEO to top the sheer arrogance and prejudice exhibited by Abercrombie and Fitch for its stance against big clothing sizes and yet Wilson has managed to attain Nirvana non grata by the seat of his pants. 

While Lululemon didn’t get the pants or the apology right, in the end they produced an excellent example for our kids on just how bad things can get when you refuse to own up to mistakes and choose to blame and insult others instead.

Maybe Wilson never really learned about the five principles of yoga: relaxation, exercise, breathing, diet, and meditation.

Perhaps Wilson needs to relax his grip on his ego, exercise better judgment, breathe the scent of humility, go on a strict diet of high quality standards, and meditate on what he says for a long while before he says it on television.


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