The clothing company LuLaRoe has come under fire for widespread complaints that its popular leggings are ripping and developing holes after as little as a few hours of wear.
A LuLaRoe spokeswoman last week declined to answer questions about whether the company was aware of problems with holes in its leggings, which sell for $25.
But it turns out that LuLaRoe is well aware of the problem and why it happens, according to a company email obtained by Business Insider.
"The leggings may get holes, because we weaken the fibers to make them buttery soft," Patrick Winget, the head of production for LuLaRoe, is quoted as saying in the January 17 email. "We have done all we can to fix them."
The email was sent by LuLaRoe's corporate office to its salespeople, who sell the multilevel marketer's brightly colored clothing to their friends online and at parties in their homes. It provides a recap of remarks during a company-wide webinar meeting held that same day with a number of top executives, including LuLaRoe president and cofounder DeAnne Stidham.
In a statement to Business Insider regarding the email, a LuLaRoe representative said the company stands behind the integrity and quality of its products and takes concerns seriously.
"By and large, consumers love our products," the statement reads. "We encourage our independent retailers to remind their customers that they can contact them to help facilitate an immediate exchange or full refund if they are unsatisfied with their product."
During the January 17 meeting, Winget addressed customer complaints about the leggings, according to the email.
"I want to talk about — our leggings, this is major one for me. We're still getting emails and concerns about holes," Winget said. The company uses a "special brushing technique" to make the leggings soft, which weakens the fibers of the pants, he said.
The best solution would be to no longer use the brushing technique. "But then they're not buttery soft," he said.
The company has tried a number of fixes.
"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," he said. "Now, we have the perfect weight and yarn, we're trying to perfect the stretching and brushing techniques. But there COULD be holes."
When assessing damages, he told sellers to "think like a retailer."
"There's no reason to get upset," he said. "The reason why is because I'm telling you right now it can happen."
Business Insider reported last week that hundreds of customers have complained about the pants tearing in posts on social media and on the Better Business Bureau's website.
Since then, thousands more women have come forward to share similar complaints. At the time that the story published, a Facebook group devoted to sharing stories about the damage had about 1,400 members. That number has grown to more than 11,000 in the last week.
In response, LuLaRoe sent an email to its sellers on Tuesday titled "helpful talking points for your customers" advising them on what to say about the quality issues.
"99.9% of our handmade products that are shipped stay out in the market with owners who absolutely love them!" the email states. "The industry standard for defective or returned apparel products is about 2.5%; our return rate is at less than half a percent (0.051%). This number is proof of our commitment to quality assurance – especially when you consider the millions of items that we produce and ship."
LuLaRoe has grown rapidly over the last two years, with sales soaring an estimated 600% to $1 billion last year, according to a recent lawsuit that accuses the company of charging customers the wrong sales tax.
The company advises sellers to accept customers' returns and offer them an exchange or refund. But not all sellers follow those rules, according to some customer complaints.
Sellers have also accused LuLaRoe of delaying refunds for damaged goods, as Business Insider previously reported.
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