November 12th, 2013

Lululemon and My Search for New Yoga Pants

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Groovy Green Livin Yoga Pants

Lululemon yoga pants and tops have been staples in my wardrobe and make an appearance most days of the week. I’ve been a Lululemon fan for many years, but that’s about to change.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about- Lululemon is a brand that makes technical athletic clothes for yoga, running, working out, and any other sweaty endeavor. The clothing is very comfortable, stylish and very expensive.

I generally don’t call out a brand like this, but enough is enough.

Yoga pants that don’t come in all sizes?

Lululemon focuses only on the little guys. Little as in size. The company admitted that plus-size apparel was not part of their vision.

The largest sizes — the 10s and the 12s — were relegated to a separate area at the back of the store, left clumped and unfolded under a table.”

Just. Not. Cool.

The Lululemon PR nightmare continues

Back in July 2013 Lululemon customers were complaining the retailer’s yoga pants were see-through. Certainly not something you want to experience as your bending into your best Downward Dog.

The company responded with exactly what they should NOT have said: basically it’s the consumers fault. Whatever happened to the customer is always right? The company insisted that customers who feel the pants are too sheer are probably just buying them too small. Lululemon ended up recalling 17 percent of its product (and losing $67 million).

I actually took a few of my yoga pants into the store to find out if they passed the sheer test. At $98 a pop sheer yoga pants weren’t going to work. After meeting with a sales person and inspecting the yoga pants we determined that mine were solid.  Phew. So ridiculous.

Lululemon doesn’t work for all women?

Recently the company’s founder decided to make another BIG blunder. The founder of Lululemon recently said “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work” in Lululemon’s pants, Wilson said on Bloomberg Television’s Street Smart.

Say what? Seriously, who is this guy?

“It’s about the rubbing through the thighs,” he added, and “how much pressure is there.”

And he knows this because?

There you have it. The founder of this company really doesn’t get it. At all. This is not the way to win a woman’s heart or her dollars.

My search for new yoga pants

And now I’m left with a lot of yoga pants, tops and jackets. I’ll keep wearing what I’ve got, but now I’m on the lookout for a new brand to support. I’m done Lululemon. All women’s bodies are not created equal and that’s what makes us fabulous. Women don’t deserve to be treated like this. Ever.

If you have a fabulous clothing company in mind for yoga, running, working out, and any other sweaty endeavors please let me know. I’m all ears and ready to jump from the Lululemon ship. 

photo credit: Gamma Man via photopin cc

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35 Responses to “Lululemon and My Search for New Yoga Pants”

  1. You are so right! And so overpriced and not sustainable as far as I know. I am obsessed with SOYBU yoga pants – much more sustainable and not as crazy priced!
    paige recently posted..My New Obsession: Secondhand Shopping and Selling on PoshmarkMy Profile

  2. I got a pair of yoga pants that rock, fit well, and are not see though at all. Old Navy. $25. I canNOT spend $100 on a pair of yoga pants! I got a 2nd great pair that goes to mid-calf for spring/summer at CostCo. Great fit, great comfort, not sheer, I think $18. Boom. Done!

  3. Yoga is become a cash cow for companies, much like babies are, so they can create an OK product, charge it through the roof, slap some marketing lingo on it to make the buyer feel good about themselves, and voila! They have themselves a popular product that everyone covets but not everyone can wear/afford.

    I don’t think yogis ever wore “yoga pants” back in the day. They wore what was comfortable and what helped them achieve their asanas easily, so why “yoga attire”? Just find something comfortable – Target, Old Navy, Wal-Mart – who cares? Is it really the brand that facilitates a better practice? I have a few Lululemon pieces myself and they’re no better or worse than my Old Navy or Target ones when it comes to holding my poses. They just have more money for better marketing thanks to consumers like us who pay the $$$ to jump on the Lulu bandwagon.

    Good for you for moving away from this company, but perhaps take a step further and just not worry about “a brand” at all?

  4. My favorite yoga pants came from Target. I actually went back and bought 2 more pairs. Total price for 3 pairs? $70. I also love Soybu if I find them on sale.

  5. These are great and far more affordable than those overpriced yoga pants. I’ll have to forward this article on to my girlfriend!

  6. My friend recently founded an athletic clothing company called Apifeni. They’ve been featured in O magazine and elsewhere. They are affordable, so comfy and I’m wearing mine now!
    Michelle Villemaire recently posted..Crafting CommunityMy Profile

  7. I came across your blog post also searching for a new Lululemon alternative. I too have a large wardrobe of workout gear from lululemon and was a huge fan of their clothes. But I definitely cannot support the company after all the awful things their founder has said including his latest remarks. I haven’t given it a try yet but I stumbled across the brand Zella from Nordstroms. A little research shows the woman who developed it for Nordstroms used to work for Lululemon and the clothes are practically knock offs at a cheaper price. I haven’t given it a try yet but I definitely plan to!

  8. Hi Rebecca, I’ll have to check out Zella. Thanks for the suggestion. I have to admit that I really like the Lululemon product, placing the companies distasteful comments of the founder aside. I’m looking forward to finding another brand that I can feel good about wearing. If you find anything else please let me know. Thanks!

  9. Thanks Michelle. I’ll have to check Apifeni out. Did you buy yours online?

  10. Good to know Cindy. I don’t shop at Target very often, but I’ll have to see what they have. The price it right!

  11. Such a GREAT point Justine. Yoga attire is really defeating what yoga is all about. I have to admit that my yoga pants really aren’t only for yoga. They’re my work clothes too on most days! You really placed a new perspective on all of this and I thank you for that.

  12. Thanks Helga. Great suggestions. My thought behind buying quality yoga pants was that they would last for a long time. Not so sure these are quality- sheer material and pilling by the thighs?? I have a lot of great options thanks to all the comments here and on my Facebook page. Thanks!

  13. I haven’t tried SOYBU Paige. I’ll have to check the brand out. Are they made from organic material? I thought I read that somewhere.

  14. You know my fave brand that I was wearing at BlogHer: Green Apple Active! Vegan, organic, and all about acceptance & empowering! So the most comfy yoga pants that I have. Another brand I like is prAna from an ethical viewpoint, although I don’t have any of their clothing, their eco-friendly yoga mats are on my Christmas list!
    Jenny B recently posted..#LunchChallenge: don’t forget to eat!My Profile

  15. Lululemon marketing execs need a basic lesson in customer service and PR. Talk about foot in mouth syndrome! I personally prefer to support businesses who are sensitive to the fact that women (including yoga practitioners) come in all shapes and sizes. And that’s a good thing!
    Deborah Davis recently posted..Live it up at the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Blog Hop!My Profile

  16. Thanks for speaking up for average sized women with real bodies that need to work out even though we don’t look like models!
    Anne recently posted..Mother Honors Baby’s Memory at Stroller BrigadeMy Profile

  17. Obviously I find this totally ridiculous and absurd for a yoga company to come out and make that claim that they just “aren’t for everyone”, but my favorite part of the interview was while the CEO was having diarrhea of the mouth, his wife, who was sitting next to him was giving him the “death ray” look. Like OMFG WHAT ARE YOU SAYING YOU IDIOT??? It was highly amusing.
    Ashley @ Its-fitting recently posted..Deck the Halls… with a Dead Cell Phone. An Everpurse #Giveaway!My Profile

  18. I love Athleta exercise/yoga pants. They are comfortable and available in petite sizes. Never had a problem with sheer material. Athleta is owned by Gap.

  19. Good to know Joan. I know they’re owned by Gap.

  20. She must have to give him that look a lot Ashley. They guy has no filter. Thankfully he lets it all out so we know what he’s thinking and we can shop elsewhere!

  21. I’m speaking for all women Anne! We are all unique and don’t fit into cookie cutter sizes. Companies should honor that or expect that we won’t shop there.

  22. I think they must have skipped that class Deborah. Women do come in all shapes and sizes and that’s what makes us amazing!

  23. That’s right Jenny! I forgot about Green Apple Active. I’ll have to check them out. I love prAna too!

  24. Lululemon has been on a steady deline over the last year and I no longer step foot in their store. The employees are not very friendly and their clothes are no better than others. I came across a company called Ellie. (www.ellie.com) I love them! The workout wear holds up very well and their customer service is AMAZING. Additionally, Old Navy is another favorite of mine.

  25. Honestly, the prices that most yoga wear companies charge for their clothes suggest to me that yoga is only for the wealthy, and I think most of us can agree that such a suggestion is limiting and absurd.
    Becky recently posted..AnticipationMy Profile

  26. A customer of my company – Apifeni – emailed us about Lori’s blog post. We are delighted to be a part of this conversation. I initially forwarded my comment privately to Lori but she encouraged me to post publicly.

    First, I think its important to address the idea of “cheap” yoga pants since I know it can be very appealing to purchase an inexpensive yoga pant at a large retailer. Simply put, there is really no such thing as cheap pants. If you are buying a pair of pants for $15 or $25 there is a steep cost, it is simply borne by the factory worker who sewed them. Pants sewn in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia and India are too often sewn in factories lacking any semblance of fair labor practices. The workers are frequently underpaid, over-worked and they may work in unsafe conditions. We choose not to work in those countries. It would be more profitable but it is antithetical to everything Apifeni is about. And that means that we will never be the retailer of choice for cheap yoga pants. If you are ever tempted by capris sold at a big box retailer please keep in mind that it is quite possible they were sewn by a young child. Apifeni and a few other companies in the active space are dedicated to sweatshop free production (PrAna is another good choice and Nike has taken real steps to improve their oversight of foreign contractors) but take the time to look at where a garment is sewn and where the fabric is woven. http://www.laborrights.org/ has a lot more information for those interested in learning more about the real cost of cheap clothing.

    A good option for value is to shop on CyberMonday. Like a lot of companies, we offer a mega discount that day only which allows customers to pick up several pairs of pants/leggings/capris plus tops at a big discount. But even with a 40% discount, our capri will cost about $40, not $25.

    Second, a little bit about Apifeni…unlike Lulu, Apifeni (pronounced “epiphany”) is not a public company and high profits simply aren’t our bottom line. I founded Apifeni two years ago and I take a lot of pride in how we conduct our business. We are 100% sweatshop free in our production, we purchase carbon offsets for all of our shipping and we choose to work with as many eco-friendly fabrics as possible. We use micro modal yarns and fabrics created from recycled plastic bottles in most of our tops. We have even developed a new spin Capri made from the yarn derived from recycled bottles which will debut this Spring. We are also a formal Alliance Partner of Women for Women Int’l. Our pants are not sheer, they don’t pill and they last for years. We sell online and also through boutique fitness studios nationwide. Our clothes have been featured in all the major women’s mags and received rave reviews from the Today show. We design our clothes to transition from the studio to the street, from barre to the boardroom and from pilates to preschool pickup…this means that we add little to no branding to the outside of our clothes. You can wear our leggings with ballet flats, boots, sandals or sneakers because there’s no logo on bottom.

    A big part of our business is co-branding with boutique fitness retailers from the big spin chains and barre studios to tiny yoga and crossfit studios. We add their branding and logos to our clothes. By choosing to work with us, they are all a part of creating better choices for consumers. They love working with a sweatshop free company – it really matters to a lot of people in the wellness/fitness world and I believe that will drive a lot of change in the coming years.

    Apologies for the ultra long comment. Thanks, Lori for your initial post and encouraging me to respond here!

  27. I can’t speak to their yoga products specifically, but I’ve always admired Title Nine as a company and I’ve drooled over their catalog for years. Might want to check them out.

  28. Also love the comment from Danielle at Apifeni above! That is the kind of company that I like to support. :)

  29. Thank you Danielle. I’m so glad you decided to go public with your comment. You raise a number of important concerns with regard to inexpensive or cheap clothing. Reading this really hit home: “If you are ever tempted by capris sold at a big box retailer please keep in mind that it is quite possible they were sewn by a young child.” Something that’s so easy to overlook or disregard when we’re buying clothing. I love what your company, Apifeni, stands for. As Cindy mentioned, your company is one that women can be proud to support. I look forward to checking out some of your products! Thanks again for sharing.

  30. Hi Becky, yoga isn’t only for the wealthy! Maybe some of the clothing offered out there is expensive, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying or practicing yoga. I’ve been to classes and workshops all over and anything goes. Usually in hot yoga classes you won’t see much in the way of clothing! It’s too hot.

  31. Great post Lori! A Lulu recently opened up in my community, I went in and I was surprised at the sizes I saw. I had seen many people wearing the clothes but had never been in a store. I assumed it was a store opening glitch that only super small sizes were on the shelves. I actually had no idea about their philosophy and public statements. I like Albion Fit’s clothes made in the USA and I have to say fun and feminine, they have yoga pants with a ruffle I love! I also like Athelta’s clothing but I cannot speak to their fair trade and fair labor practices as they are owned by a large company.

    Great conversation and suggestions in the comments.
    Leigh recently posted..Comment on How To Stay Green And Healthy Over The Holidays by BeckyMy Profile

  32. What a great conversation that addresses so many issues Lori. Had to pick up my jaw when I heard about the comment made by dear hubby-I’m sure their dinner table was a bit frosty that evening! I do love my Athleta yoga pants, they have lasted for years, but buying from a large company is not my favorite. I am excited to check out Apifeni and support a company that empowers women of all shapes and sized!
    alison abbott recently posted..Decorate with Every Day Kitchen ObjectsMy Profile

  33. Thanks Leigh. I need to check on Athleta/GAP. I don’t know much about their practices either.

  34. Here’s a results-page for an eBay search for USA-made yoga pants. There are some really cool styles and patterns! I don’t know anything about any of these pants; I just thought I’d search for USA-made yoga wear. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=USA+Yoga+Pant
    Angelique recently posted..Sealing Out Paint Fumes: The Crack House EffectMy Profile

  35. […] well it’s hard to make a switch. For many years I was a devoted fan of  Lululemon. After the company made a quite a few bad choices in my opinion and wound up in a PR nightmare I, along with many others, made a conscious […]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

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