Lululemon recalls 318,000 yoga tops with dangerous drawstrings

Lululemon will recall over 20 different types of garments sold in the United States and Canada, but this time not because they are see-through.

Ben Nelms/Reuters/File
A woman walks into a store of yogawear retailer Lululemon Athletica in downtown Vancouver, June 11, 2014

Loyal customers of Lululemon yoga gear may need to be wary of overly robust drawstrings.

On Thursday the company announced that it will recall over 300,000 women’s tops because their hard-tipped drawstrings could cause injury.

"When the elastic draw cord with a hard tip in the hood or around the neck area is pulled or caught on something and released, it can snap back, impact the face area and result in injury," a notice on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's website reads. 

“Our main priority is ensuring the product works for our guests, and we believe this is the necessary proactive action,”  a spokeswoman for Lululemon said in regards to the recall.

“We are committed to making our product right for our guests and regret any inconvenience this may have caused them.”

The Vancouver-based activewear company is no stranger to controversy. In 2013 the company recalled a collection of yoga pants from its stores because they became transparent when wearers bent over, a frequent activity during yoga practice. Erstwhile CEO Christine Day stepped down in the wake of the incident.

That same year, Lululemon co-founder Chip Wilson also stepped down after issuing a formal apology for his comment that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for his company’s yoga pants.

The apology, however, fell flat, and critics lambasted Mr. Wilson for being “insincere” and failing to address the women he may have offended. Wilson had been the chairman and largest individual shareholder of Lululemon since he founded the company in 1998.

Laurent Potdevin, the former CEO of TOMS shoes, took the company reins as Chief Executive Officer in January 2014.

But the bad publicity and increased competition from other firms made Lululemon lose its grip on the market of yoga pants and other athletic gear.

"We're certainly not the only game in town anymore," Mr. Potdevin said on a call with analysts and investors last year, the Huffington Post reported.

Now, in the latest Lululemon incident, at least 20 different styles of tops are being recalled, including jackets, hoodies, tunics, and pullovers.

​The tops were made in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, and Peru, and were sold primarily prior to 2014. The company says there are around 133,288 of the affected tops in the United States.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission confirmed that there have already been “seven reported incidents, resulting in seven injuries to the face and eye.”

Customers have been advised to stop wearing the tops or remove the drawstrings. They can also contact the company to request that a new, non-elastic drawstring be sent to them, together with instructions on how to replace the strings at home.  

As of Thursday afternoon Lululemon’s stock had not been negatively impacted by the announcement of a recall. For more information and a full list  of recalled items, visit the notice on the US Product Safety Commission's website, here.

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