CINCINNATI -- The honeymoon is over for some Tri-state fans of LuLaRoe, the brightly colored leggings that became wildly popular as a “buttery soft” pants substitute, after complaints about tearing in the product's fabric. However, other local buyers and sellers are sticking with their beloved brand.
Dani Thompson of Fairfield has experienced holes in three pairs of leggings, and pilling under the arms of a few “Irma” style LuLaRoe shirts she has purchased. One of the leggings had a tiny hole that she noticed while wearing them to work, and by the end of the work day they had ripped so that “the entire butt was showing,” and she had to go to the store to purchase new pants.
Thompson expressed frustration at the disconnect between the price and the quality.
“When you pay $35 for a shirt, it should last you,” Thompson said.
Amanda Van Mil of Mason has experienced quite the opposite.
“I have 15-plus pairs of LuLaRoe leggings, some very well worn, and none have holes. I am very careful about cold wash, hang to dry,” she said.
Van Mil is following the special LuLaRoe legging care instructions that involve not drying the products as well as a hole-prevention technique of treating the leggings more like panty hose (bunching them up and “rolling” them on, as opposed to pulling them on like pants).
However, Megan Merrill of Fairfield, a former LuLaRoe consultant for five months, said the holes contributed to her short career with the company. She attributes the quality-control situation to the company’s explosive growth in recent months.
“I had issues with holes the entire time I was a consultant, but never with leggings I purchased beforehand (earlier in 2016). I'm suspicious that they grew in popularity too quickly around this time and tried to increase production to meet demands and the quality of their product took a hit as a result,” Merrill said. “Size ‘Tall and Curvy’ leggings were almost exclusively sold out for consultants to order the entire time I was a consultant.”
She added that about 50 percent of the leggings she sold were returned due to damages and every pair of her own stash had holes in them.
“People also were never very nice about it, because until very recently it was against LuLaRoe’s policy to issue refunds,” Merrill said. “If I were to refund someone, the funds had to come from a personal check from myself. Not too many people want to exchange damaged leggings for more leggings that are likely to also have damages.”
Dani Taggart, a Liberty Township LuLaRoe consultant, had far fewer cases of the holey leggings. She guessed the issue came up about twice a month.
“The company is actually great about this,” Taggart said. “We send in a damage form with a picture of the item and they reimburse us at cost. My return policy for holes is that I either exchange for a new pair or reimburse the customer, whichever they prefer. The only monetary loss for me is shipping cost of the exchange.”
Taggart remembered hearing about a connection between the holes and the process that creates the “buttery soft” feeling of the leggings, but that the company “corrected this long ago.”
However, the Facebook group “LuLaRoe’s Defective/Ripped/Torn Leggings or Clothes” has many frazzled customers and the group’s number has grown from 6,571 members in late February to 14,149 members as of March 5.
Customers on the site, as well as other online forums such as the Better Business Bureau’s review page, complain that the holes occur within hours of wearing the leggings. The BBB has given the company an “F” and stated that they have reached out to LuLaRoe on behalf of upset customers, but have received no response (as of July 2016).
LuLaRoe spokespeople have been defending the quality of the brand, claiming that 99.9 percent of the leggings have no holes, which is below the competitive market for defective clothes merchandise at 2.5 percent (compared to 0.051 percent, according to LulaRoe), in a recent Business Insider report.
The report reveals information from an email LulaRoe sent to consultants, who sell the clothing line from their homes and Facebook pages. It states that number is “proof of our commitment to quality-assurance -- especially when you consider the millions of items we produce and ship.”
Upset customers and brand fans alike are flocking to social media as the issue gains attention and LuLaRoe responds.
The company uses a brushing technique to create the softness that attracts so many women to the brand, but this technique can also be the culprit of tearing.
LuLaRoe’s message was sent to consultants Jan. 17 and outlined the fixes they have tried.
“We’ve changed the loop counts, the weight, from 190 to 200, then they’re heavier, then we made them wider, so they stretched too much,” wrote Patrick Winget, head of production at LuLaRoe.
Some speculation circulated around the concept that the tear-prone leggings were solely coming from Vietnam, one country in which LuLaRoe was manufactured, but the rumors appear to be unfounded.
LuLaRoe is also facing scrutiny amidst a potential class-action lawsuit involving overcharging customers for sales tax. According to a recent CBS News story, customers in states who do not require sales tax on clothing may be affected.
The suit states that “defendant overcharges buyers up to 10.25 percent every time a consultant who lives in a jurisdiction that taxes clothing makes a sale where delivery is made to a jurisdiction that does not.”
Regardless of the tax issues and holey leggings, LuLaRoe’s popularity seems to be holding strong in the Tri-State, with some calling it a “cult-like” following. Thousands of local women still collect the bright patterns, especially the “millennial moms” the company seems to attract.