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Lululemon to Overweight Women: Our Stuff is Not For You

Lululemon founder, Chip Wilson recently said some women just can’t wear the athletic clothing company’s yoga pants–namely women with oversized thighs.

Wilson, who is also chairman of Lululemon’s board of directors, appeared on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart” to talk about the sheer pants problem, a production failure with the company’s luon line that bared women’s bottoms as they posed in downward facing dog. Lululemon recalled the pants back in March–a move expected to cost the company $67 million in revenue–added mesh panels to the sides and a rear panel for added coverage. The pants recently returned to store shelves, labeled the “Second Chance Pant,” and are on sale for $92.

When asked what caused the transparency, Wilson explained that a thousand things could go wrong when making a tech fabric like luon and that when three of those things go wrong at any one time, there’s going to be a problem. “It’s almost impossible to build a quality control case for each one of those combinations,” he told host Trisha Regan.

Regan followed by questioning the product’s tendency to pill, a complaint many consumers have been making. And in what has become the blunder heard round the retail world, Wilson said there will always be pilling, but what it boils down to is that the product just doesn’t work for some women’s bodies.

His exact words were: “The thing is that women will wear seatbelts that don’t work or they’ll wear a purse that doesn’t work,” he said. But, “quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it,” he added referring to women’s bodies not working for the yoga pants in question.

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“It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there and over a period of time how much they use them,” Wilson said.

Regan’s response was a succinct, “Interesting…not every women can wear a Lululemon yoga pant.”

What followed was a media storm with some feeling Wilson’s comments were a huge misstep for the company while others agreed with Wilson’s comments saying things like, “the fatties should be shamed.”

In a post on Lululemon’s Facebook page, one shopper said, “A company that truly supports health and connectivity and community would never even think of blaming women and their bodies for the failure of crappy, overpriced products.”

Fearing further fury, Wilson issued a video apology for his comments in the Bloomberg interview, speaking more to his colleagues than to customers saying, “I’m sad for the repercussions of my actions. I’m sad for the people at Lululemon who I care so much about that have really had to face the brunt of my actions. I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. I’m sorry t have put you all through this. For all of you that have made Lululemon what it is today, I ask you to stay in a conversation that is above the fray. I ask you to prove that the culture that you have built cannot be chipped away. Thank you.”

For a company already suffering from product fails and pilling goods, Wilson’s statement may have done little to quell any consumer concerns.