Lululemon Is Handling the Sheer Yoga Pants Scandal All Wrong

Two women doing yoga class --- Image by ? Image Source/Corbis
Photo: ? Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

You’ve probably already heard that Lululemon, the maker of high-end yoga apparel, is undergoing a companywide crisis after a number of pairs of its signature black Luon yoga pant were found to be too sheer, revealing parts of women’s bodies that were supposed to be kept covered.

The crisis, which has already spawned a pun epidemic, has hurt Lululemon’s stock price and given the company an embarrassing turn in the media. Today, the company’s CEO was forced to admit, on a conference call explaining the screw-up, that the only way to catch the problematic bottoms was to “put the pants on and bend over.”

But it didn’t have to end this way. Lululemon had a huge opportunity to turn its sheer-pants fiasco into a hit. It just didn’t capitalize. Here are two suggestions for what it could have done instead — one from an experienced female yoga practitioner, and the other from a dude who has done yoga twice.

Charlotte says:

I’ve been going to yoga regularly for years. Classes at my studio are predominantly made up of women, but there are usually a few guys, some of whom are clearly straight because they’re with their girlfriends. I’ve had male friends ask if going to yoga would be a good way to pick up women, and I always say no, because it seems too obvious and kind of creepy. Everyone’s underdressed and bending into vaguely sexual positions. It would be like trying to flirt in a department store lingerie section. It’s supposed to be a safe zone.

This is why I don’t understand why Lululemon is so worried about their sheer pants. If you have problems with your butt being visible, then yoga is not for you! Yoga is where butts get waggled and stuck up in the air. You’re supposed to show your tush with abandon. If you think sheer pants are too scandalous for yoga, try doing downward dog behind a shirtless man in tiny shorts. Being quasi-naked in yoga is practically a necessity, not a problem.

That said, there is the thong issue, which I can understand. The problem with sheer yoga pants isn’t so much that your butt cheeks are visible, but that your thong is. Still, I don’t see why this is a terrible concern, since lots of ladies’ thongs stick out during yoga anyway. And since the pants are only see-through when you bend over, this wouldn’t be a problem when you’re walking to and from class, unless you drop your car keys or something.

Obviously Lululemon is trying to stick to their standards, and that’s commendable. But instead of tossing the sheer pants, they should just slash the prices and/or sell them at one of their outlet stores. Plenty of their less butt-shy customers will be more than happy to buy them.

Kevin says:

I’ve been to two yoga classes in my life — both in Brooklyn, both at the same chi-chi yoga studio. It was a few years ago. I think I had a Groupon.

Charlotte and I must have gone to different studios, because what struck me about my yoga experience (besides my horrendous lack of flexibility) was how efficiently it performed its secondary role as a meat market. Men and women (and men and men, and women and women) partnered up for quick stretches before class, snuck obvious peeks at each other during class, and mingled over cookies and tea in the lobby after class. Take away the sun salutes, and it could have been any yuppie singles mixer.

Half the fun of yoga is seeing other hot young things sweating in skimpy clothes. So it’s baffling to me that this is even an issue for Lululemon at all. The solution seems obvious: make sheer pants a feature, not a bug. Instead of recalling those transpara-pants, just make some new packaging, slap it on the defective pairs, and market them as a new line — “Sheer Nirvana,” or somesuch. Hell, make ‘em for men, too.

Lululemon was famously founded on the ideals of Ayn Rand. You think Ayn would have apologized for some see-through Spandex? Hell no. She would have defended the integrity of those pants with her life. “An inventor is a man who asks ‘Why?’ of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind,” she wrote in Atlas Shrugged.

A real Objectivist yoga company would have looked at that sentence, replaced “the answer” with “sheer-bottom yoga pants” and “his mind” with “record-breaking profits,” and sold the damn things like hotcakes.

Lululemon’s Missed Opportunity