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See-through pants? How Lululemon became the butt of the Internet’s jokes

A woman carries a shopping bag with the Lululemon Athletica Inc logo outside one of the company's stores in New York, March 19, 2013. The Taiwanese supplier behind the see-through yoga pants recalled by Lululemon Athletica Inc said on Tuesday it followed design specifications and the Canadian retailer had merely misjudged customer tastes.

LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

Lululemon Athletica Inc. is struggling to cover its butt. The problem is one of transparency – of the literal, not financial, kind.

To the delight of men in yoga classes everywhere, recent batches of the company's signature black "luon" women's yoga pants are practically see-through. Lululemon called it an issue of "increased sheerness," NPR reports.

The company has offered refunds while pulling the products, which make up about 17 per cent of all women's bottom apparel in Lululemon's 200-plus stores, The Globe's Marina Strauss has reported.

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"We want you to Down Dog and Crow with confidence and we felt these pants didn't measure up," the company said in a letter to their "guests."

It didn't take long for the clothier to become the butt of jokes. Fashionista's take: "I See London, I See France: Lululemon Recalls See-Through Yoga Pants."

Meanwhile, Lululemon is feeling the sting to its bottom line. Its shares tumbled about 5 per cent in morning trading Tuesday after the company revealed that production problems with the diaphanous pants would lead to a shortage of its top-selling products.

Eclat Textile Co Ltd., the Taiwanese supplier that produced the revealing yoga pants, said it had followed Lululemon's design specifications. The problem was due to "a gap between Lululemon's expectations and reaction from the market," Eclat told Reuters.

"This is what they get for thinking size 12 is a plus size," commented Christine Moellenberndt at NPR.com.

The quality-control problem has left Lululemon customers bent out of shape. "Great, you're accepting the crappy black luon back, but what about all the sheer colors?" wrote a customer by the name of "lulu lover" on the company's website. "Too little too late for this buyer!"

It's not a stretch to imagine that some Lululemon pants buyers may not have got the memo. So the next time you're in standing forward bend, take a look around. Friends don't let friends over-share in yoga class

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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