For the uninitiated, Lululemon Athletica is a nice friendly Canadian multinational juggernaut that produces yoga gear and clothing. It’s safe to say they are the most popular name in yoga pants save Kim Kardashian only. But alas, Lululemon has fallen on hard times. Quality control issues have beset the seller in recent months, culminating this last week in a crisis: a large portion of its yoga pants failed “sheerness” testing, making them unsuitable for sale. In layman’s terms: they were see-through, which may or may not be a problem depending on what type of Hot Yoga you’re into, but it’s definitely an issue for the average non-exhibitionist contortionist. And we’re not just talking about a few pairs: it’s by some attributions up to 12% of its stock, $20 million in sales. That’s a lot of $100 yoga pants. Shares of Lululemon have dropped 4% over the last few days. It has caused a nationwide panic.
Lululemon, as any fine seller does, blames it on its manufacturer, a Taiwanese-based textile company who makes clothes for US sellers such as Gap, Under Armor and others. The manufacturer, in likewise fine tradition, says it did as it was contractually told to do. Meanwhile there’s a recall of the pants and nobody knows what the future of yoga pants will hold!
Thought exercise time. Let’s say that the Church got a bad batch of Carinessa IIs from its manufacturer (I’m going out on a limb by suggesting that LDS Distribution Services does not own the company that makes the textiles for garments). The garment problems were discovered too late and thousands of outlandishly sexy garment bottoms were unleashed on an unwary public. Would the Church recall them? Would we even know? We have total opacity with respect to the manufacture and sale of garments, which is intended to ensure that garment markings and forms correspond to those approved by the Church but which actually functions as a total monopoly. I’m sure that if your Carinessas were Too Hot for FHE you could take them back to the distribution center – they are generally very good about returns – but that’s not quite the point. With monopolies come tremendous potential for consumer suffering – choices are restricted, prices go up and quality can decline. This isn’t entirely the case with garments, as choices have always sucked (but are getting marginally better), prices have gone up and quality has always been pretty good. But it’s still a concern. Same concern arises over manufacture and quality of LDS Scriptures, various teaching aids, sacrament trays, all the things the Church has taken out of local hands in an effort to improve consistency. Why does that horrify us in the context of Google or Standard Oil but we’re OK with the LDS Church?
The simple answer, I suppose, is that it’s the Church, stupid, and we should trust it.