Lululemon: Shunning Plus-Size Customers as Business Practice?

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Lululemon Athletica showcases different sizes of its popular yoga pants in such a way that deliberately shuns bigger customers, a new report suggests.

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Most merchandise is presented out on the floor, hung on the walls, or folded neatly in cabinets for all the world to see, the Huffington Post reports.

But the largest sizes - the 10s and the 12s - are merely relegated to a separate area at the back of the store, left clumped and unfolded under a table.

Moreover, the only styles of yoga pants even available in those sizes were older Lululemon designs whose fashion moment had long since passed.

These larger offerings were also rarely restocked, said Elizabeth Licorish, who worked at Lululemon for four months before leaving the store in 2011.

"All the other merchandise was kind of sacred, but these were thrown in a heap," Licorish said. "It was definitely discriminatory to those who wear larger sizes."

Far from an accident, the exiling of larger clothing by Lululemon is a central piece of the company's strategy to market its brand to the stylishly fitness-conscious.

Insiders say this treatment of larger clothes and customers reflects the culture Lululemon represents - promoting skinniness as a paramount feature of health.

Lululemon declined to comment on this report, but this mode of image maintenance determines what lands on shelves at many major retail outlets, experts say.

A dearth of plus-size products reinforces an implicit message that larger Americans have absorbed for years: Shop only at retailers that welcome your "type."

Plus-size women between the ages of 30 and 45 are supposed to buy at Lane Bryant, not Lululemon see-through yoga pants, or so the marketing goes.

The definition of plus-size varies, with PLUS Model Magazine setting the break-off point at size 12, while the New York Times puts it at size 14.

The average dress size for U.S. women is 14, according to Women's Wear Daily.

In recent months, brands have drawn criticism for messages that seem to reinforce their labels as status symbols for the young, white and classically attractive.

Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO in particular took heat for an interview in which he essentially admitted that he wants his clothes and stores to be exclusionary.

Lululemon may at first seem an unlikely member of such ranks, but insiders say it has made it clear that it's not interested in attracting plus-size shoppers.

At the store where Licorish worked, she grew accustomed to plus-size shoppers entering and quickly leaving, having deduced that this was not their place.

"There was sort of a grumpy response to people unfamiliar with the brand ... moms would come in with their daughters, look around and say, ‘Clearly I can't shop here.'"

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