Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Customers rip Lululemon for poor quality of clothing

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NEW YORK -- Just a few months after Lululemon Athletica pulled yoga pants from shelves because they were too sheer, costing the company millions in sales, it's fielding new complaints about quality.

The Canadian company had blamed the problems from spring on a style change and production issues.

New yoga pants have since made their way into stores, but there are recent complaints on the Lululemon Facebook page and its website about pants that are still too sheer. There are also complaints about pants pilling after a few months of wear -- or even just a few uses -- and about holes and seams coming apart.

The fresh batch of problems could alienate the retailer's legion of hardcore fans who have been willing to shell out $100 or more for yoga pants. These followers helped Lululemon, founded in 1998, ring up $1.4 billion in sales last year.

Lululemon is trying to put the see-through yoga pants snafu behind it. It's looking for a new CEO after its current chief executive, Christine Day, said in June she was planning to leave. On Thursday, it announced it had hired a new chief product officer, bringing in a Kmart leader to fill a role that had been left vacant.

"Lululemon will certainly face new challenges if the pilling and seam problems are real," said Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser in a research note.

One complaint from Lululemon's website, from Oct. 7, on the page for the Groove pant, says "As much as I love my lulu pants that I purchased in August, I will not be recommending this to anyone at all. For the price I paid, it's just not justifiable at all. The waistbands are pilling, the back is pilling and same as the complaint below, I wash and care for them with like garments."

Another, from Oct. 30, about a Wunder Under pant: "Very disappointed that these are still sheer."

Lululemon Athletica Inc. did not respond to an email seeking comment Friday. Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc. closed down US$1.24, or 1.8 per cent, to US$67.85 Friday, off 11 per cent in 2013.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2013 B19

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