unsellable pants could be next PR problem
Lululemon unsellable pants could be next PR problemThe too sheer yoga pants at the heart of Lululemon’s recall this week have become a pop culture punch line, the target of jokes on Twitter and mockery in the form of a faux serious PSA from late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
Lululemon’s sheer strategy: Get ahead of yoga pan ugg boots ts quality crisis, fastFinancial analysts may not be thrilled with Lululemon’s ability to control the quality of its pricey yoga pants, but getting in front of ugg boots a potential crisis fast is likely the best long term brand strategy for the company to maintain its brand reputation and customer loyalty, industry experts say.
And despite seeing its shares fall about 7% this week, the Vancouver based retailer caught the problem early, pulling the items from store shelves and warehouses before many customers bought them.
That, however, could leave the yoga apparel giant with another big problem: the potential PR mess of what to do with the unsellable pants.
It is not clear how many pairs of the sheer pants were made, but 17% of all womens’ pants “is a LOT of pants,” Toronto based apparel retailing expert Kaileen Millard Ruff, director of retail at Pop Up Retail Group said this week, noting that quality control screeners for mass apparel do not generally count every individual pair, just a selected number per shipment.
It is unlikely, given the corporate health and environment loving Vancouver retailer’s ethical reputation, that it would ugg boots follow a long held dirty little secret in retail: a high amount of never bought clothing winds up in landfill sites every year, a level that experts say rose in tandem with the ‘fast fashion,’ good for one season apparel from the likes of Joe Fresh and Forever 21.
Many retailers choose to offload unsold or slightly damaged goods to an off sales discount retailer such as Winners or Marshalls or donate them to a charity like Goodwill.
But there can be a stigma associated with discounting the brand through a mass, low priced channel. And, while the pants in question are not threadbare but are clearly not up to the retailer’s bend over and get an eyeful “four way stretch” test, Lululemon’s future plans for the togs are unclear.
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Asked on Thursday by an analyst whether the product could be sold off at a discount, CEO Christine Day said Lululemon is keeping all of the affected apparel to see if it can be salvaged. “There actually might be some treatment solutions that we are investigating that could actually solve some of the problems,” she said. “So until we get those test results back, we haven’t made a decision at this point in time.”
After an H New York employee was caught in 2010 tossing new clothing that had been deliberately slashed before its disposal in a garbage bin, the Swedish apparel company faced a public outcry and reiterated its policy of donating or recycling unsold items. chain with more than 300 stores in the United States and Canada, got into hot water last year when an employee in Edina, Minn. was spotted spray painting dresses including a $6,000 Vera Wang and throwing them into a dumpster as the parent company was in the process of shutting down a subsidiary chain.
“[Discarding unsold apparel] was happening a lot and it is still happening,” said Kerry Ann Ingram, sales and marketing coordinator at the retail unit of Toronto based charitable organization Windfall, which has takes new clothing donations from retailers and manufacturers and gives them to people living in poverty or crisis.
“We came about because retailers were throwing out or ugg boots incinerating their clothing,” Ms. Ingram said. “If Lululemon is looking to donate the clothing, we would definitely take it. If they are worried about devaluing of their brand, we can always cut off labels. We do have a lot of high end donors who do not want to lose the credibility of their brand.”
Lululemon, lauded for its product and design innovation, could also recycle the fabric itself: Its separate Vancouver “innovation hub,” Lululemon Lab, designs, produces and sells its own separate lines of limited edition clothing to test new ideas.