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Why Lululemon founder believes some women’s bodies ‘don’t work’ for their yoga pants

TORONTO, ONTARIO: July 12, 2013 - Grace Fusillo-Lombardi (right), 40, and her daughter Allessandra, 16, wear Lululemon pants while practicing yoga poses at their home in Toronto, Ontario.

Philip Cheung/The Globe and Mail

As the latest Lululemon tumult has confirmed, the size of a woman's thighs is, ahem, a touchy subject.

The company's founder and chairman Chip Wilson appeared on Bloomberg TV earlier this week to discuss his new 60-second meditation concept, Whil, before anchor Trish Regan segued into how the brand continues to be plagued by pant predicaments.

The latest: pilling.

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To which Wilson countered, "Yeah but there has always pilling. The thing is that women will wear seat belts that don't work or a purse that doesn't work or, quite frankly, some women's bodies just actually don't work for it."

Regan, naturally, jumped on that last point, smiling in disbelief. "They don't work for the pants?"

Wilson replied, "They don't work for certain, some women's bodies" and then she tried to clarify (maintaining the same astounded smile), "So, more likely, they will be see-through in some women's bodies then in others?"

His theory: "No, 'cause even our small sizes would fit an extra large; it's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how much they use it."

The segment has since been edited down to that crucial awkward minute, prompting reactions across the Internet that the company founder is not taking accountability for quality control issues.

"Im 5'8 and 130lbs and its my fault their pants are lousy? LL needs to own their own quality issues," wrote Kim Brubeck to Regan via Twitter.

Businessweek's take on the interview came with this cheeky headline: "Lululemon strikes a familiar pose: foot in mouth."

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The web site Fashionista further questioned Wilson's logic: "So I guess we all have to start walking bowlegged to 'use' the pants correctly. Does this rub (haha) anyone else the wrong way?"

Indeed, the issue with blaming friction between the legs for the pilling is that most women – no matter their size – do not have the type of "thigh gap" body shape that would ensure the pants' longevity.

And Wilson has spent enough time around women with active lifestyles to know that athletic women – leaving aside fleshier ones – are likely to have shapely legs.

To take this faux pas one step further, yoga is about inclusivity, right?

At least Wilson's wife, Shannon, attempted to salvage the situation when she explained to Regan that pilling can result from sitting on abrasive surfaces such as cement.

Cement was unavailable for comment.

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