Lululemon: Downward dog not required for returns

NEW YORK — No “downward-facing dog” is required.

Lululemon said Wednesday that no demonstrations of yoga or any other positions are needed to return the pricey black yoga pants that the company pulled from shelves last week after finding that they were too sheer.

“We do not require guests to demonstrate the sheerness of their bottoms,” said Sari Martin, who works for communications firm ICR and spoke on behalf of Lululemon.

The Vancouver, B.C.,-based yoga gear maker’s statement comes a day after a New York Post report that was widely circulated by the media recounted one woman’s tale of being asked by sales staff to bend over to prove that the yoga pants she was trying to return were sheer.

Martin would not comment on the specific instance recounted by the Post, but said Wednesday that this is not standard policy for Lululemon staffers. To the contrary, she said that people who bought the black “Luon” yoga pants, which cost $72 to $98, since March 1, either online or in store, can return them for a full refund, “no questions asked.”

The hubbub comes a week after Lululemon said it was recalling its black “Luon” yoga pants, which account for about 17 percent of all women’s pants in its stores, because their material was too sheer. The pants are made from a combination of nylon and Lycra fibers.

The company still hasn’t determined the cause of the problem. And officials have declined to say when the items would be back in its stores. But the company has added more stringent controls and is diversifying its suppliers to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The flap is a blemish for a company that has been a superstar in the athletic world. Lululemon has grown to 211 stores, including 135 stores in the U.S. and 51 in Canada, as its yoga and other workout clothing has gained popularity with men and women. Its devoted fans helped Lululemon, founded in 1998, become a $1.4 billion business.

But the pants snafu isn’t the only quality issue the chain has had, though. The company also has had sheerness problems with swimsuits and light-colored pants.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin said that while the sheer pants are an “odd” situation, it’s just a growing pain for the rapidly expanding company.

“They tried to get in front of this by not letting the merchandise stay on store shelves and they’re working with vendors to try to figure out how this happened,” he said. “They’re probably handling it the best way they can.”

Shares fell 76 cents to $62.27.

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