Lululemons of our own!

The mark of the (flexible) beast!

I have followed with keen detached interest the sad sad story of Lululemon And The Great See-Through Yoga Pants.

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.


  1. “they are generally very good about returns”

    Is that supposed to be a comedic line as well?

  2. Sadly yes. You can’t return underpants, silly!

  3. Well, as the BoM teaches, kings are great as long as they are good kings. This hypothetical situation falls in the “good king” category.

  4. That would only be a problem if my Dockers ended up equally transparent.

  5. Capozaino says:

    I never made it past “outlandishly sexy garment bottoms.” Where do I sign that petition?

  6. J. Stapley says:

    For a lot of our history, we outsourced just about everything. Granted G.Q. Cannon & Sons or the Deseret Wollen Mills were tight with the Church, but there were alternatives. You used to be able to by the garment at J.C. Penny. We’ve gotten a little bit tighter on our distribution chain since then.

  7. Apparently you are unaware of the longstanding Mormon tradition of only replacing garments after 20+ years of use when they are so thin and transparent that they disintigrate into the lint filter of the dryer.

  8. Mark Brown says:

    “….thousands of outlandishly sexy garment bottoms were unleashed on an unwary public”

    Although those are all English words, there must be some kind of syntax error because I am unable to understand any of that. I’ve always assumed that it is metaphysically impossible for garments to be sexy.

  9. “outlandishly sexy garment bottoms”

    We are told that it’s not the material but the markings that make the garment sacred. Get rid of the markings, and all that’s left is cloth – to be used as a washcloth, if desired. So, if all that is necessary is markings in the right locations . . .

    I can imagine all kinds of ways to create sexy garments – but that isn’t the question of the post, and I probably should stop now before I get a call from my Bishop.

    This is one monopoly (temple garment production) I understand and can accept – as long as the product remains affordable. I know that’s a subjective standard, so, in the end, it does come down to a matter of trust. As for the other items listed, I’m less happy about a monopoly for them.

  10. We are told that only the markings in the right places matter.

    Given that, I can think of all kinds of ways to produce sexy garments (tops and bottoms and, technically, one-piece) – but I’ll stop there.

  11. Sorry, I thought my first comment had been lost due to timing out, so I typed a shorter version.

  12. I have been wishing for years that pre-distressed poly-cotton garment tops could be sold–I’d pay a lot extra for them. I don’t like having to bleach them week after week for three years straight to get that super soft gossamery-translucent thing going on–the new fabric, though very durable, is stiffer than I like and resists softening. Maybe the Church could allow competition from a jeans manufacturer, and in the process warm up skeptical LDS teenagers to the idea of endowments and the clothing transition that comes with it? Perhaps options like sheer, stonewashed low-rise garments? Translucence shouldn’t matter as long as your outer layer is opaque. Or at least I hope not :) I guess we’ll find out as soon as something like the Lululemon see-thru fiasco happens in Church Distribution.

  13. We are told that it’s not the material but the markings that make the garment sacred. Just create a protected embroidered LDS garment logo by combining the marks into an attractive design and offer a service that embroiders it on any undergarment members provide!

  14. marginalizedmormon says:

    good essay–

  15. marginalizedmormon says:

    I think that corporations are the modern parallel to kings?

  16. I have bottoms I’ve owned since 2007 that I can much more easily wear with shorts. In spite of buying the same size and make, I cannot seem to find pairs that are that short again. I’ve come to the conclusion that they were a bit of mistake or mis-batch. So I keep them in a special spot in my closet, and only ever wear them with shorts, and the rest of the time wear the longer ones.

  17. “I have bottoms I’ve owned since 2007”

    Let’s just break that down a little. You have 5 year old underwear.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    This must be a big story, because I had never heard of the company, but my local news talked about it when it broke.

  19. observer fka eric s says:

    “nobody knows what the future of yoga pants will hold.” I do.

    I think if a bad batch of Deseret Lingerie snuck out, the Church would just let it ride. The irony here is that the lululemons were problematic for being sheery and see through, while Gs are made of material that *is* see through and always has been since I’ve remembered seeing pops cruise the house in sheery one-piecers. So I don’t even know what a “bad batch” of Gs would look like, and I’m not sure the Church would either–other than problems with length of cut.

    FWIW-I was at my birkrham hot yoga last night, and didn’t notice any defective gear during warrior 2.

  20. Eric S. FTW.

  21. Opaldust says:

    “outlandishly sexy garment bottoms”??

    I think we just found All Enlisted’s next campaign!

  22. Marie (#12) – low-rise garments: From your mouth to Pres. Monson’s ears. I swear mine are halfway to my armpits.

  23. You know they’re decidedly unsexy when you can’t immediately distinguish between the garment tops and bottoms.

  24. hawkgrrrl says:

    My kids assure me that G’s are already too sheer for public display. Prudes.

  25. I am always amazed at how inexpensive garments are. And they last and last. My gripe is how they lose their whiteness after just a few washings. And, yes, I use whitening products.

  26. Kris, just stop washing them.

  27. Kris, I read that they are naturally sort of greyish, and they are dyed white. So if you use bleaching products, you remove the white dye and that’s actually what accelerates the turn to that vague sort of grey.

  28. I used a bleach product and it turned mine pink, and nothing will fix it.

  29. I don’t think pink ones work!

  30. Kristine says:

    Pink is ok, Howard. What you have to be really careful about is not putting them on inside out–that way you might suck harm unto yourself…

  31. Sharee Hughes says:

    They turn grey after numerous washings, even if you don’t use bleach. What gripes me even more than that is the sizing. I buy my tops in the “full cup” and they only make those in “tall.” As if only tall women have full breasts. The problem is, the breasts of a short woman (I am 5’2″) are closer to her shoulders than those of a tall woman. So I buy the tall garment top and the cup falls below where my breasts are, unless you pull them up. They say you aren’t supposed to alter garments, so mine, of course, slip off my shoulders. Writing complaints on the comment cards they have at the Distribution Center not only doesn’t bring any response (I have even included my e-mail address and asked for a response), they are also totally ignored. I doubt anyone even reads them.

  32. What you have to be really careful about is not putting them on inside out–that way you might suck harm unto yourself…


  33. Sharee, you should contact the distribution center about customizing some just for you. My brother is super tall and they gave him instructions for sending in specific body measurements and they sent back one custom made top and bottom. after trying them on and assuring they fit, the distribution center let him order as many as he wanted to, all for the same price as the standard sizes.

  34. Valentine says:

    I don’t think there’s actually such a thing as white dye. Look it up.

    I wish they would quit making changes, I’ve worn the same size and style for many years, but they change often…hems get shorter, then longer, then shorter. Recently they have switched to thicker, less comfortable fabric for the 100% cotton ones as well as completely changed the sizing on the cotton tops. At least they are transparent about the latest changes to some of the women’s bottoms.

  35. “What you have to be really careful about is not putting them on inside out–that way you might suck harm unto yourself…”

    This explains so much.

  36. Womens’ (read: woman’s) garment bottoms drive me to celibacy. nasty. yet, holy.

  37. Sharee, as a fellow short-with-big-boobs (can you say boobs on this website?) woman, I buy the “tall” garments with the regular “cup.” The shoulders are longer, which allows more space in the boobular region. Except when I was nursing, this was big enough.

    Also, they do dye garments white.

  38. Sharee Hughes says:

    Thanks, Tonia and Molly for your suggestions. I will try yours, Molly, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try the custom idea.

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