Apr 4, 2013
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Lululemon exec to leave after see-through pants blunder

Apr 4, 2013

Lululemon Athletica Inc's chief product officer will leave the company, the retailer said on Wednesday, after a popular product proved too risqué for its fashion-conscious fans.

Lululemon said Sheree Waterson will leave the company on April 15. It has stepped up testing and factory supervision after uncovering a batch of partially transparent stretchy pants last month.

Waterson, a fixture on the yogawear brand's investor conference calls, joined Vancouver-based Lululemon in 2008.

Lululemon said in March it was pulling some black pants made with its signature Luon fabric off store shelves because they were too see-through. It warned that the move could lead to shortages and dent its profit by up to $40 million this fiscal year.

On Wednesday, Lulu said these forecasts had not changed.

Lululemon effectively created the market for premium women's athletic wear with form-fitting pants, colorful tank tops and pricey sweatshirts. In recent years a cluster of competitors have rolled out more yoga and running wear, typically at lower prices, so its longstanding reputation for quality has become more important than ever.

The company said its specifications and testing have not changed significantly from 2006. But the Luon fabric used to make the batch of see-through pants "was on the low end" of its tolerance scale.

"When combined with subtle style changes in pattern, the resulting end product had an unacceptable level of sheerness," it said in a statement, promising to run all Luon products through a new testing process.

Chief Executive Christine Day said in March that her team was "devastated" by the recall and was rethinking how it tested its products.

"The truth of the matter is the only way you can actually test for the issue is to put the pants on and bend over," she said.

Lululemon said it has stationed employees in its suppliers' factories to test and monitor its products.

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