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TRUTH OR DARE: Lululemon Athletica Inc. is fighting back to preserve its reputation as a socially and health conscious company — and The New York Times is sticking by its story last week, headlined "'Seaweed' Clothing Has None, Tests Show."
The yogawear company has commissioned its own test confirming that its VitaSea product does in fact contain seaweed — contradicting tests conducted by the Times and an investor shorting Lululemon stock who tipped the paper off, which alleged that the product's labeling falsely advertised its fabric contents.
Following the Times' article Wednesday, which caused Lululemon's stock to fall as much as 9 percent during the day before recovering to close slightly up, the Vancouver-based firm blasted back Thursday, saying it always does a comprehensive fabric verification process at the beginning of each season using Switzerland-based certifiers SGS Group.
"Product quality and authenticity are of the utmost importance to Lululemon," Bob Meers, chief executive officer of Lululemon, said in a statement. "Integrity goes to the core of everything we do and is at the heart of our relationship with our guests. For this reason, we test our products for content using a leading testing facility. We absolutely stand behind our products, our processes and refute any claims in recent press reports to the contrary."
Lululemon is offering an exchange on VitaSea products for dissatisfied customers.
According to Lululemon, last December, Smartfibre AG, the developer of the SeaCell Pure used in Lululemon's VitaSea line, conducted independent tests confirming the presence of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the fabric that it sold to Lululemon's manufacturers, according to Lululemon. In June, SGS's Hong Kong lab confirmed those results. Then Wednesday, both SGS and Smartfibre AG retested to confirm the presence of SeaCell, it said.
The Times said it received a tip from a Lululemon investor shorting the stock that a lab test found little difference in the mineral levels of a shirt from Lululemon's VitaSea line and a plain cotton T-shirt.