The decline and fall of the yoga pants

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson admits fashion fad just doesn't work for some women's bodies.

Last week, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson admitted in an interview with Bloomberg TV that his company’s immensely popular yoga pants “just don’t work” for some women’s bodies.

While my immediate reaction was, well, no kidding, it still bothered me that Chip was the one to say what I had long been thinking.

Now, I understand fashion fads. In the ’90s, I rocked scrunch socks, tights and an oversized Hypercolor T-shirt with a scrunchie in my hair and a mood ring on my finger. In the 2000s, I wore jeans and a Bohemian top with a chunky belt loose around my hips, with my hair styled in the “Rachel”. These are all things I would not do today.

But yoga pants are a fad I never understood. I never got how it was not okay to wear track pants outside the house, but it was okay to wear yoga pants to work.

Don’t get me wrong: I took it as a signal that it was okay to wear black track pants to the grocery store. Oh, what a glorious day!

From the very first time I walked into a Lululemon store and saw those bottom-half-only dummies lined up with their svelte thighs and tiny buttocks, I knew those pants were not for me. Also, I balked at spending nearly $100 on workout pants.

When I have shared my certainty that those pants would not look good on me with friends, I’ve often been told that these mythical pants make everyone’s bum look amazing.

I’m sorry to say it, but that is just not possible. No item of clothing will look good on all body types. There is just too much diversity among womankind for that to be realistic. And what a wonderful thing that is.

I don’t want to be a Stepford wife. I like that brides are often heard to complain about how difficult it is to choose a bridesmaids’ dress because her closest girlfriends don’t look the same. While modern fashion models and glossy magazines might make us think differently, I don’t believe every man wants a size four, B-cup, blonde girlfriend.

But it still bothers me that Chip was the one to point out that not all women suit his megapopular pants.

For starters, it could easily be interpreted as Chip saying, we only want thin women in our store. Only skinny women are eligible to wear our clothes. We only make sizes above an eight for appearances; if you don’t fit into a size eight or smaller, don’t even bother.

Earlier in the year, Lululemon had to recall a whole bunch of pants because the fabric was too see-through. Chip’s response then was that women must be wearing them too tight.

When you put the two comments together, it sort of seems like our man Chip created these pants without any intention of selling them to curvy women. The fact that curvy women still wanted to buy them seems to have got his nose out of joint. He’d rather we, what, wore a kimono and stayed out of sight?

Also, it’s quite frankly a cop-out. If he wants to sell his pants for these high prices, then they better be decent quality. Not see-through. Not pilling every time two thighs touch.

For one reason or another, part of me hopes that this signals the decline of yoga pants as a fashion fad. I preferred my Hypercolor t-shirt.

Sally MacDonald is a reporter at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman.

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