By: admin On: March 20, 2013 In: Blog Comments: 3

Transparency is often a key element in handling crisis communications, but ironically for Lululemon Athletica, it is transparency that has actually created the latest Lululemon PR crisis.

Apparently, the company’s yoga pants are too sheer, leaving both the company and its loyal customers exposed, both literally and figuratively.

For Lululemon, whose high-end athletic apparel commands a cult-like following across the world, it’s the latest in a series of PR blunders for a company that has also experienced phenomenal global growth since launching in 1998.

“With the black Luon pant recall, Lululemon has now had its fourth quality control issue in the last year,” Credit Suisse analyst Christian Buss wrote in a note to clients.

Another Lululemon public relations crisis involved claims by the company that some of its products contained a seaweed fabric that “releases marine amino acids, minerals and vitamins into the skin upon contact with moisture.”  It turns out that was not exactly true, and the company agreed to comply with a decision from Canada’s Competition Bureau and remove all tags with the “unsubstantiated” claims.

To its credit, Lululemon appears to be working hard to get ahead of this latest yoga pants crisis.  Perhaps it learned valuable lessons from its earlier mishandling of high-stakes PR fiascos and is trying to take a different approach.

Lululemon is recalling the affected products and offering full refunds for its “guests.”  A blog posting from March 18 addressed the see-through pants is somewhat comical corporate-speak by explaining that “the materials used in construction were the same but the coverage was not, resulting in increased sheerness.”

The company deserves credit for taking concrete steps to address its latest crisis and for indicating its commitment is to its loyal fans, with whom it has worked very hard to build allegiance.  In the coming weeks it would be well-served to investigate the causes of the error, explain what happened, and lay out steps the company plans to take to ensure that nothing similar happens again.

In the meantime, expect Lululemon to be the “butt” of many jokes online (in blogs such as this) and in the press.  Before the “moon” sets on this latest scandal, Lululemon and its customers will probably have to endure some teasing and undergo some “red-cheeked embarrassment.”

The company this time appears to have taken swift action after this issue “reared” its head, and Lululemon will hopefully be able to make the right moves now that prove effective and correct in “hindsight.”

Here is the full statement from Lulelemon’s official blog:

At lululemon, our most important relationship is with our communities and our guests. We recently learned some information about some product that arrived in our stores and we wanted you to know right away.

At the beginning of March, our stores and ecommerce site received some black luon women’s bottoms that didn’t meet our high standards. The materials used in construction were the same but the coverage was not, resulting in increased sheerness. We want you to Down Dog and Crow with confidence and we felt these pants didn’t measure up.

We keenly listen to your feedback and it is paramount to us that you know we’re listening. We are 100% committed to doing the right thing for our guests and living our standards. It is with these intentions in mind that we’ve pulled the affected product from our floors and website.

We are working with our supplier to replace this fabric and other manufacturers to replenish the affected core items as fast as we can. What that means is there will be a shortage of these styles in our stores and online until our new stock arrives. We are also in conversation with our manufacturing partner to understand what happened during the period this fabric was made.

We are committed to making things right so if you purchased product from our store or on our website and you think it is too sheer, we welcome you to return it for a full refund or exchange. If you have any questions please click here for more information, visit any of our stores or contact our Guest Education Centre at 1.877.263.9300.

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