Is Lululemon Chairman’s Apology the Worst Ever?

By ABC News

Nov 14, 2013 11:58am

ABC News’ Melissa Lustrin and Linzie Janis report:

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson appears to be having his Paula Deen and Tiger Woods moment – two stars whose mea culpas were less than well received – after his own tepid apology for placing the blame for problems with his company’s products on women’s bodies.

In his apology video, posted last Friday on YouTube and Lululemon’s Facebook page, Wilson looked directly into the camera and apologized, not to the customers he may have offended, but to his own employees.

“I’m sad for the people at Lululemon who I care so much about that have really had to face the brunt of my actions,” Wilson said.  “I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. I’m sorry to have put you all through this.”

Wilson was referring to the comments he made during a Nov. 5 interview with Bloomberg TV inferring that the “sheerness” of Lululemon’s yoga pants was likely caused by women buying too-small pants or their thighs rubbing together.

“Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work [for the yoga pants],” Chip Wilson said on Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” program. “It’s more really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

Canada-based Lululemon is still trying to bounce back from the March 2013 debacle that forced it to pull nearly 17 percent of its popular black Luon pants from stores, showrooms and the website after customers complained the pants were see-through.

Lululemon offered customers a refund or exchange for the pants and said in June that it delivered the Luon pants back into stores within 90 days of pulling the line. By that time, the stock for Lululemon, which rang up $1.4 billion in sales last year, was down 17 percent.

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Now that the pants are back on the store shelves, Lululemon is facing a new barrage of customer complaints, this time involving the pilling of the fabric.

Wilson’s apology seems to have only inflamed the controversy surrounding the company, with commenters on Lululemon’s Facebook page calling the apology “foolish” and Wilson a “jerk.”

“From a marketing standpoint, Chip Wilson’s apology is kind of a disaster,” Business Insider’s Ashley Lutz told ABC News.  “It seems like he’s saying I’m sorry I got caught, but I’m not sorry I said it.”

Wilson never directly addressed Lululemon customers or offered an explanation in the apology, instead directing his comments to rally employees.

“I ask you to stay in a conversation above the fray,” Wilson said.  “I ask you to know that the culture that you have built cannot be chipped away.”

Lululemon declined to comment when reached by ABC News.

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