Friday, September 10, 2010

Let's Talk About Quality

Before I discovered the fancier athletic wear brands, I used to buy Adidas stuff. My Adidas held up awesomely - no fading, no unraveling stitching, no discoloration under the armpits, and most importantly it didn't require any tender care. No washing on delicate cycle in cold water and hanging it dry. Sure it was boring and didn't fit or perform that great but it was relatively inexpensive and it held up like a tank. Then I discovered Lucy and bought quite a few items. However, I stopped buying Lucy after awhile because the technical wear unraveled on me at the hems and the dark colored cotton stuff discolored under the armpits with perspiration. Now I only buy Lucy when it's dirt cheap on sale or made by another company like Pink Lotus or Splendid for Lucy. Lululemon, and I hate to say this, I'm starting to think about you like I do about Lucy - I should only buy on sale because it's not worth paying full price for sketchy quality. I've had three items unravel on me now and one shirt bleed on me. My luon items seem to be doing the best - no unraveling or bleeding but sometimes they pill a lot and sometimes they don't. It's very irritating because certain batches of the same product are fine so it becomes a crap shoot every time I buy something. Is this the good batch? Cross my fingers and hope so. I've read a few comments by educators on your facebook page where people will complain about a quality issue and you say it's an illusion that problems are more commonplace because people get the word out over the net. That's BS. There's a lot of people who have been buying Lululemon for years now and they've noticed a decline within their own collections. I have older items that have not pilled a lot and not unraveled. It's your newer stuff. Some people pin it on being made in China but that's not an excuse. My adidas stuff is made overseas and it's fine. It's your quality program. You need to ramp it back up. You built your reputation on your high quality. For the prices you charge, you need to fix the quality issues before people start seeking out other options.

40 comments:

Sarah said...

I totally agree with the decline in quality. I bought my first pair of grooves over 3 years ago and they still look like I bought them yesterday! I got my second pair for christmas and they look like they've been through the war and back! I do not work out in my grooves, they are more for casual/ work wear. It is unacceptable for a pair of pants to turn into such crap when they are used so lightly!
Another issue I have is that if you buy something and it is defective, a lot of the in-store educators try and pin the issue on poor care by the customer.

Jodie said...

What makes me upset is the way the web responses always just tell you to bring items to the store and let them take a look at it. You get to the store and they do exactly what Sarah mentions at the end of her comment. Or they tell you it's past the refund/exchange period and there's nothing they can do.
It would be nice if the designers actually test out what they design before actual mass production of the product. I feel like we're all paying them to test out their products.

Becky said...

I am so glad you posted this, luluaddict. I have been feeling this way as well. I rarely purchase anything at full price anymore other then my hoodies. Everything else I wait on and usually end up buying my pieces from loot. The one tank I did purchase at full price feel apart and I ended up sending back to the GEC for a refund.

momof5 said...

Amen Sister!! I have definitely noticed a decline in quality -- it seems the more designs and branching out they do -- the lower the quality of the CORE products are. I had a shape jacket that I sold for the define -- and my old shape looked way better then the define after a few washes --
Plus, love the Swiftly -- hate they delicate care it requires --

And the grooves are so not the same quality as 5 years ago!

Funny -- though - the prices keep going up!! Don't even get everyone started on not including the cups with the inflated price of the tanks!

momof5 said...

Amen Sister!! I have definitely noticed a decline in quality -- it seems the more designs and branching out they do -- the lower the quality of the CORE products are. I had a shape jacket that I sold for the define -- and my old shape looked way better then the define after a few washes --
Plus, love the Swiftly -- hate they delicate care it requires --

And the grooves are so not the same quality as 5 years ago!

Funny -- though - the prices keep going up!! Don't even get everyone started on not including the cups with the inflated price of the tanks!

Anonymous said...

i totally agree, lululemon quality has significantly declined. I have grooves from 2004 that look better than my new ones. My most recent ones January look older than my 2004 ones- the new ones pill like crazy- and i only wear mine for casual wear once or twice a week. It's ludacris, they charge so much for crap quality0 they really should fix this. My costo ones cost 15 bucks and are in better shape and pill way less than lulus. Shame on lulu. Even the stride jacket has fraying and seam unraveling issues and dont get me started on the define. My shape jackets from 2005 look newer and better than the define. Time for lulu to get a grip on their quality control!

Anonymous said...

I agree too!
My black no limit tank has bled both times I've washed it...
the stiching on my pima T was all twisted when I received it.
I recently returned my fouette tank b/c there was loose stitches and I did not want to wash and wear and then run into problems...so for safety sake, I send back (at my expense).
I'm not sure why I pay so much for lulu....it used to be for quality!!

Nicole said...

I'm really glad you wrote this as well! I have a pair of groove pants I bought three years ago and they have held up fine. However, my more recent pairs of groove pants have tons of pilling and the seams are coming apart. Pilling is definitely my biggest complaints on my shirts and pants. I think their clothes are really cute, but I am staring to definitely think it's not worth one or two wears for the price. I'm becoming super disappointed.

Canadian eh said...

*OT* loot must be coming - I was just at a store with loads of stuff on sale, including the Journey Jacket for $69! Even though I just paid full price 2 weeks ago!! Fireside pants are on sale already too

Anonymous said...

Yes, quality issues are a concern for me. I've returned two items lately - the Express Yourself Wrap and FIF bag. I loved both but after reading the comments on FB about horrible pilling on the one, and falling apart seams on the other, I decided I'd rather have my $100s back than risk it. I also have had twisted seams on pima tees (refunded no problem) and tiny holes (returned for credit). The tiny holes are so irritating as lulu has basically said it's the wearers' fault - don't wear them with jeans, apparently. Fine - no more $48 tees for me. Fading is another issue I've had. I love lulu so much still, but I'm way pickier about what I buy now. As a stockholder in the company, I'd really like to see the quality issues addressed, for real.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for this post!! I have a pair of Fitness Pants I bought from 2008 that I wear all the time with NO PILLING NO FADING and like almost new!! I'm so sick and tired of GEC's canned responses. Seriously! And I've noticed they don't have those "can withstand 5 years of athletic abuse" tag anymore. Now their excuse of pilling is that is caused by abrasion which is caused by "normal wear and tear". What the heck? We aren't stupid Lululemon!

momof5 said...

New LOOT UP!! Journey jackets --69, community jacket 109 some other stuff

Anonymous said...

Yeah I've been really disappointed to have discovered Lululemon as the quality has gone down.

I have $20 yoga pants from other companies that I've worn for years without pilling. But the $90 Lulu pants I bought recently definitely show pilling after wearing them one time!

And I'm really careful about my clothes and never put stuff in the drying, so I don't think it's something I'm doing!

It makes me really sad because Lulu stuff is so cute.

houndlvr67 said...

I totally agree with the biggest change in quality being their core item-the Groove Pant. I am with y'all in that the pants that I bought 5 years ago have held up better than those purchased 6 months ago! AND my pow pink Swiftly bleeds like a bitch!

Blame it on Christine Day...she strung the Starbucks brand out too (I think Via was her baby if that gives you any clue...tastes like shit!!!). The founder had to come back to save it.

Come back Chip!!! Be more involved in the day to day stuff! If not the reputation of Lulu will go down the tubes...if you care...

Anonymous said...

Good job on posting this Luluaddict! I hope Lululemon sees this and takes it into major consideration....after all shouldn't their motto be, "Quality is more important than money."....hmmm

Anonymous said...

I agree 100 % but I can tell you that it's not a problem I expect them to fix. Take Thursday's for example... the FB crowd goes BANANAS for the Thursday uploads, this is a huge problem. Everyone wants to buy, buy, buy until items are sold out (usually Canadian site) just so they can say that they have them. They don't necessarily care about quality- they care about the size of the logo on the leg! The thing is that often you see the FB crowd turn around and sell their stuff on the exchange page cause they can't take it back when something new comes along. Lulu doesn't care, they are selling out on day one! I don't buy Lulu anymore- I still look though! I'd rather buy Nike or New Balance- their prices are reasonable and quality is usually great.

jade said...

I think it's a bit annoying too how they mark a couple dollars off something and consider it to be a final sale. I don't find $3 off the tank top to be considered a "sale" or loot item.

Anonymous said...

yes! when i brought back my stride jacket the other night at first they at first tried to pin it on me saying "it must have been near velcro". When I chimed in about the quality issues, THEN they agreed with me, come on!! I also tried to explain to them on the FB page that it's not just from having the zippers open and got the same standard answer that "blah, blah, blah we know about this and we believe it's from having the zippers open". Umm..can you listen to what I said, please?!

Their standard answer of "bring it into a store to be assessed" irritates the heck out of me too! It's like saying we don't believe what oyu're telling us immediately.

I have noticed changing quality and while that's one thing, I also wish they would be honest. Enough BS about it!!

Anonymous said...

Agreed quality has gone down - I much prefer buying older used items now over new ones because the older ones are actually BETTER quality then something new from the store. Not worth the extra expense and I have started purchasing some of my key workout pieces elsewhere. I definitely think twice about paying full price for any of their new stuff now. I bought a lolo stride and have not worn it yet but will be on the lookout for fraying seams :( I don't think that if I pay over $100 for a jacket I should have to worry about leaving the pockets unzipped - hello? they put the zippers in shouldn't they have accounted for them being unzipped at some point?

Anonymous said...

T&F jacket is $109...not community jacket...

Anonymous said...

Today they released financials...i think it is amazing that they are having such a fabulous quarter and we are all complaining about quality and lack of loyalty to frequent buyers AND the website. Christine Day said they aren't gonna fiddle with the website til after the holidays? LOVELY...so we still have the same ol stuff through the year end! Can you see LULU's footprints on my back? ;)

Marci said...

Amen!! This is my biggest beef with lululemon. I remember when my pow pink stuff bled, and they skirted and skirted the issue. I have had other stuff bleed, yet they always pretend like its a weird freak accident. I haven't purchased anything for two weeks and have little interest to buy more now. I am waiting for sales, lower quality makes me think sale prices are what I am willing to pay.

Farha said...

I totally agree! At Lululemon prices quality should be a given and these days it isn't. It seems like they push out new fabrics/styles etc all the time without properlly thinking them through or testing them out.

I've been through three jackets this summer (Define and Stride II) with problems with shreading and coming apart at the seam on the arm. The latest time I went into the store I found out they had changed the design slightly on both jackets to address the problems. This is something that should happen before full production, not after! Luckily the stores I went to were great and exchanged my jackets without any issues. (Although, one girl kept sniffing the dammaged area on the sleeve, not sure what she was smelling for??)

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Now I'm scared to buy the two $98 each black /reflective rosehips + static charcoal/black that I've been eyeing........

SoCalRunner said...

If you take a look at the feedback for the Astro Crop, someone posted a pic of her 1 month old crops with obvious signs of wear in the crotch area -- the response from GEC: "Wear like this will naturally occur in areas of high abrasion like along the inner thighs, as technical fabrics such as luon are not abrasion resistant."

I don't buy new luon products anymore - I'm content with my grooves and boogie crops circa 2003-04, which are in great condition. I have to agree with Anon @ 12:09 - they aren't likely to make any changes until the decline in quality causes a decline in revenues. It's easy to get caught up in the lulu new product frenzy - I have to remind myself that I'm getting worked up over exercise clothes for heavens sakes! =) But right now, the hype is driving sales and as long as they can get away with selling lower quality products while increasing prices, they will be content to stick with their current approach.

LuluAddict said...

I forgot to mention in my original post that my unraveling seams came on items that had been worn washed, at most, only twice. I have a rather large collection that I rotate through and most of my things get worn once a month or so.

The quality definitely went down after they went public. A lot of their growth is based on expansion. I'll try and find some same store year over year growth data. If you burn new customers on $100 jackets or $60 tanks that fray, you're not going to make new Lulu Addicts out of them.

Anonymous said...

I also have a stride jacket (static grey and alarming) that is looking pretty beat up/frayed along the inside of the sleeves, despite being only 2 months old. I never use the pockets, so they're always zipped up -- so that's not the cause. It's never been washed.

I haven't brought it in to Lululemon because I find the sales staff a bit cult-like and overbearing... I just don't have the energy to deal with them.

Like everyone here, I love the clothes for the most part (and I'm glad I have luon pants from 4 years ago I still wear all the time).

andrea2251 said...

I have had bleeding of a Swiftly, but luckily most of my products have held up pretty well. I am however concerned about future purchases (plus I always hated their horrible customer service when it comes to quality issues). Do any of you have a suggestion on an equivalent quality brand that has a luon-like fabric? Zobha? Athleta? I LOVE luon. I love the look, feel and function. If another company made a luon-like fabric, I'd totally jump ship.

freber said...

All I can say is 'hear hear'! I'm Canadian and have had Lulu gear since the beginning. The prices haven't declined, but the quality has. It's awful. :(

Ashalicious said...

Yes, will you please send this to them and all the comments. I LOVE LULULEMON but my love is slowly changing when they are charging you top dollar but are giving you Wal-Mart/Target quality. If I wanted clothes that weren't quality, I'd go back to Nike.

LuluAddict said...

I've been told that people from Lululemon read this blog so I'm 99.9% sure your comments will be read by people at the company. They have people dedicated to monitoring social media.

I've tried Zobha and Beyond Yoga and if you do a search of this site you can find some reviews. As far as tactile feel against your skin, Zobha's material feels a lot like Luon. The thickness and weight is very similar to "older" luon. However, it does not dry nearly as quickly as luon so I believe the wicking is not as good and it's a bit less breathable but still very good. It think it is good for low impact activities like yoga.

I wash Lululemon and Zobha together and the Zobha takes much longer to dry. I only have one pair of Zobha capris so I can't comment on pilling, but I've worn them a few times and so far the crotch area is fine and like new. The weight of the capris feel a lot like Wunder Unders. The built in bra is very basic - just a shelf, similar to what you used to find in older Lululemon tanks like the Spark and Repose. Some of their tanks have built in cups just like Luluemon's and work nicely to add support. As far as fit, the Zobha tanks do not flare as much at the bottom as Luluelmon's do so if you have a curvy shape they will tend to flip/roll up. The capris have a very low rise but otherwise are very nice. Zobha often has half price sales and this is when I've bought it.

I've also bought a few Beyond Yoga pieces. The material is super, super soft - like a Chamois and almost like a heavier running luon. The material is thinner and lighter weight than regular weight luon - kind of half between regular and light weight luon and so not nearly as forgiving on your flaws. I have a pair of Bermuda shorts that I've worn quite a bit and they have not really pilled but roughed up between the thighs. The material also does not dry nearly as fast as luon. However, I find the material so pleasant feeling against my skin that I love wearing my Bermuda shorts around the house and out and about. I have a few of their cotton products and really like them. I think the fit is very nice. I have three of the camisole tanks made from supplex. They have a shelf bra but adjustable straps. They also don't flare as much at the bottom so if you are hippy compared to your chest (pear shape) you'll have to size up for your hip measurement. I love wearing them for around the house. Beyond Yoga is made in the US and Zobha is not.

Even with the sporadic quality problems, I think Lululemon is still superior to both of these in terms of fabric, fit, functionality, and performance especially for participation in vigorous activity but those two companies are not that far behind Lululemon. Zobha's design is interesting and different than Lululemon's. I recently bought the Marilyn tank that I like a lot.

Anonymous said...

I would stop buying Lulu because of the outrageous pricing & the quality issues (pilling luon really bothers me) but after working out in Lulu, I honestly don't think I could go back to anything lesser! Lulu fits me the best, looks the most flattering, & feels the best when I work out. I've left the gym soaked in sweat, but didn't realize how soaking I was until I got home & felt how wet everything was when I took it off. The wicking is sooo good & totally does the job like no other. I haven't tried any other "yoga" brands, but regular athletic brands are nowhere near as good as Lulu in terms of comfort & flattering fit, IMO. For that, I'll put up w/ prices, quality, & lack of stock....but for how long I don't know... I really wish they'd shape up!!!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting indeed. I am a new convert to lulu, and dropped a lot of money updating my yoga gear. I went to India for yoga last year and took a bunch of Patagonia stuff. When I was there, I hired someone to do my laundry, and they (literally) beat the crap out of my clothes by hand, in the river. My Patagonia stuff showed NO wear at all! I got rid of some pieces because they started to smell, but they held up amazingly to the abuse I subjected them to. The lulu stuff I replaced my Patagonia stuff with already looks ratty, and I have washed them tenderly, hang dried them, etc. I bought a stride jacket and returned it after one wearing because it was frayed... I'd rather pay more for Patagonia stuff that isn't quite as cute, but holds up to anything. Plus, they don't play BS games with limiting inventory. Great sales every season, and I feel good about paying for stuff that lasts. And yes, Patagonia tends to be more expensive than lulu.

Lulu, you would have had a devoted life customer, but I'd rather not pay high prices to coddle your clothing to keep it looking decent. It's workout gear for god's sake...

LuluAddict said...

Anon 9:39 am - I love the image of your athletic wear being beaten against a rock. I can't imagine doing that to my Lululemon. I baby it like lingerie. I have a few tops I wash in a MESH bag on the handwash cycle in a front loader. I am going to try some Patagonia stuff. I haven't tried them yet. Patagonia has a great guarantee, too.

Anonymous said...

@luluaddict
I think I am particularly feisty because I just got back from a hellish freezing backpacking trip that involved being rained-snowed on for 48 hours at high elevation. I was so thankful for my wonderful gear that really stood the test. I started laundry right away upon return and saw that some lulus needed washing, but was annoyed that I couldn't wash them on gentle cycle with my fleece stuff that has been to hell and back and still looks great. Here is what it comes down to for someone plays very hard in her clothes, I will wear cute lulus for a reformer class or something light in the gym. I've stopped wearing lulus for my yoga practice because I sweat too much and use a rug or towel, and that makes my luon pill, and then they look bad. I have stopped wearing them for (even light) cycling because of the pilling in the crotch area that us supposedly normal.

Also, in India I was chatting with a girl who is a lulu ambassador, and she said her stuff just didn't last, so she
had only packed cheap tights she found at Target, and they had withstood the "rock beatings" quite well.

Patagonia yoga stuff does not fit as well in my opinion, but their jackets and outerwear ROCK. Great sale right now, and my fleece that I got on sale for $70 has made it through treks over mountains, third world laundering practices, mud, campfire overexposure, and
much more. Would my $107 stride jacket do that? Hmmmm...I won't risk finding out.

Colorado Pilates Teacher said...

Thank you for posting on this topic, Lululemon Addict! I AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY!!! I have several pairs of Grooves that I've had for going on 4 years now. They've been washed countless times and look practically brand new. Some of my newer Lulu items already look worn, after a comparatively low number of wearings/washings. I am positive that Lululemon folks read your blog, and I really hope they pay attention to what is being said. Those of us who have been loyal to them since their early years do not want to be told that it's all in our heads when we complain about pilling or rough seams, etc. Here's my advice to Lululemon: STOP with all the insane new designs (harem pants, anyone??) and start focusing on better quality control. You can bring out all the new stuff you want, but that won't impress those of us who expect quality and longevity when we plop down all these dollars for your items. Find your balance and get back to your roots: the excellent quality you used to have is, sorry to say, NO LONGER THERE. Thanks for allowing us to voice our opinions on your excellent blog!! :)

LuluAddict said...

I love all the great input from everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to post it and I really hope this gets passed to decision makers at Lululemon.

It's pretty bad when a Lululemon Ambassador is saying the clothes don't hold up.

erica said...

i just brought a Patagonia Capilene 3 zip neck top to a store because its zipper is detaching from the front. It's a 3 year old top. I paid $60, and they're fixing it for free, no questions asked, no blame placed on the customer.

What a difference from my experience at Lululemon! Patagonia's clothing may be less stylish and flattering, but it performs really well and they stand by their products. At this point, I'm only buying older Lululemon products on ebay.

DiamondsandTulle said...

I'm SO glad you posted this LuluAddict and Seriously HOPE Lululemon reads this post, comments, and makes some immediate and substantial improvements! Since the last couple of years, I 've bought more tops in the Luxtreme fabric (which I LOVE) and bottoms/jackets in Swift and heathered/denim looks. All my more technical fabrics have held up very well. But my most recent Groove Pants purchase in Grey pills terribly at the hem/stitching and crotch. My Heathered WU pill at the crotch and the Denim WU have all sorts of white feathered edges at the seams. My original Black Grooves and WU's are still impeccable! While I personally love the more fashion-forward designs, I'm scared to purchase more bottoms due to the pilling and frayed edges at the seams. The sales associates in store have all told me that the denim look and the heathered Luons pill more. I guess I'll be sticking with Black and Run Speed Shorts only.
Just bought the Fast in Flight Bag. Hopefully that one will last for years (at $98 I should hope it will).

Patricia Charette said...

The quality has definitely dropped. my 4 year old pants are in way better condition then the pants i bought 3 months ago. I am extremely disappointed. time to find a better quality pant, especially for the price. i used to love lulu .... Let down. :(