While there is no clothing brand that doesn't occasionally produce defective clothing pieces, LuLaRoe, the multi-level-marketing company that has 80,000 independent retailers and has produced a popular trend in women's clothing -- buttery-soft leggings and long tunics, as well as versatile dresses that are purported to be "suitable for every body type," is under fire for quality issues as well as scathing remarks concerning customers.
The company, which is just 4-years-old, has had tremendous growth and has outsourced production of many of its leggings to countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. Since that time, many customers have complained that the leggings develop holes very quickly, sometimes even before being worn for the first time. The leggings, which retail at $25 per pair, are some of the pricier leggings on the market, with similar companies such as Agnes & Dora selling leggings for $22 a pair. Although LuLaRoe tells customers that the leggings must be hand-washed and never put in the dryer, some customers claim that even following those directions doesn't help and that the leggings "rip like wet toilet tissue" the first time they try them on.
A lawsuit has been filed over the quality of the leggings by some disgruntled customers, and this is not LuLaRoe's first lawsuit. Another lawsuit was filed earlier this year that claimed that customers were being charged illegal sales tax in some states that do not have sales tax on clothing. LuLaRoe promised to address the tax issue with an updated sales portal, and they have decided to address the quality complaints as well, although the CEO, Mark Stidham, made some comments about independent retailers and customers that are leaving many aghast.
At a seminar that Stidham says was designed to "encourage retailers," he told them that the problem was not product quality, but that the independent retailers were "stale" and some feel he likened LuLaRoe customers to "pigs." According to Yahoo, Mark Stidham's comments during the motivational speech were removed from YouTube on April 26 after a public outcry, some of which called him a "cult leader."
"No, you're stale. Your customers are stale. Get out and find new customers. If you bring a new customer in, then your inventory isn't stale. The problem is, you try to sell to the same group of people day after day after day. You go down there and go head-to-head with the negativity. You cannot wrestle with the pig without getting a little mud on ya. Don't wrestle with the pigs, ignore them. Oh jeez, I'm going to pay for that comment too."The backlash was immediate, with outcry from customers and retailers alike, and the video was pulled from YouTube. A representative from the company has since issued a statement, saying that the comments were misconstrued and taken out of context.
"The comments you are referencing must be taken in context. They were made in a motivational webinar that intentionally included colorful language to energize Independent Fashion Retailers."However, over 28,000 LuLaRoe customers disagree, as they are members of a Facebook group called "LuLaRoe Defective/Ripped/Torn Leggings and Clothes." The Website was begun by a fomer LuLaRoe consultant (now termed "independent retailer") who goes by the name "Mommy Gyver." The background picture for the group is the quote from Stidham telling them that they are stale.
Stidham then gave an interview to Business Insider that caused even more controversy.
"I don't feel we have much to apologize for. I'm empathetic, and I'm sorry that [some customers] had a bad experience. But I don't feel that the company is in a place where a blanket apology is necessary."Due to all the backlash, LuLaRoe has decided to commit to a "happiness policy" for clothing sold after April 25, 2017. This policy ensures that customers can get an exchange or refund within thirty days if they are not happy with their purchases. However, many customers feel the comments made by Stidham are unprofessional, and some have even referred to LuLaRoe as a cult, in which independent retailers describe being unable to voice concerns about the company products or policies without being belittled or ostracized.
Have you had problems with LuLaRoe clothing? How do you interpret CEO Mark Stidham's comments? Will you continue to buy LuLaRoe?
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]