LuLaRoe, the apparel company that is known for its wild prints and leggings, is under fire again for what disgruntled former and current retailers say are â€œmean girlâ€ tactics dictating dress code.
In a Facebook post, a LuLaRoe â€œcoachâ€ (the second-highest tier in the LuLaRoe retailer hierarchy) posted a lengthy three-point dress code for the companyâ€™s upcoming convention in California. The post warns consultants that they might â€œget in troubleâ€ if they donâ€™t abide by LuLaRoeâ€™s â€œCulture of Modesty.â€ And in capitalized letters, it reads, â€œDo not wear leggings as pants.â€
The convention to which the coach,Â ChariseÂ Kehaulani Johnson, refers is a pep-rally-style annual event (as described by former LuLaRoe retailers) in which the companyâ€™scontroversial founders, Mark and DeAnne Stidham, join a handful of other LuLaRoe higher-ups to promoteÂ company values, drum up excitement about upcoming products, and share tips on how to sell inventory.
LuLaRoe consultants are not technically employees of the company, as they abide by a direct-selling business model (like that of Avon and Herbalife) and order LuLaRoe clothing at wholesale prices to sell on their own. Consultants pay approximately $400 to attend the conventions.
Johnson did not respond to a request for comment, but LuLaRoe provided a company statement to Yahoo Style, explaining thatÂ it had not authorized theÂ Facebook post.
â€œThis was not an authorized statement from the company and has no attribution,â€ the statement read. â€œWe cannot comment on this as we did not write this. While we encourage retailers, home office T.E.A.M., and consumers to wear the product as designed and intended, people are certainly free to express their own creativity. During our events, we encourage retailers and the home office T.E.A.M. to dress modestly for the family-friendly environment we provide.â€
Hundreds of LuLaRoe consultants attended the 2016Â convention, held on a hot July day in Ontario, Calif. While most of the conventionâ€™s events were held indoors, the food service and company store were held outside, according to one convention attendee. The attendee, a LuLaRoe retailer who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, tellsÂ Yahoo StyleÂ that several women were taken to the hospital for heatstroke on day one.
To beat the heat, some consultants wear LuLaRoe clothes in modified ways (say, a dress as a halter top). While most people followed the dress code, Jill Brady, DeAnne Stidhamâ€™s daughter-in-law, chastised those who didnâ€™t during one of the conventionâ€™s general sessions, says the attendee.
â€œJill Brady gave a talk where consultants were told, in no uncertain terms, that we were to wear the clothes as they were intended and that wearing the clothes and exposing skin was immodest and inappropriate,â€ the attendee tells Yahoo Style. â€œThere were several women in attendance who were wearing this halter style and singled out as such for not wearing the dress as it had been designed.â€
Itâ€™s true that company dress codes are common in corporate settings. Banking employees are required to wear suits, and women, stockings; designer Thom Browne requires his staff to wear items from his collection, though theyâ€™re given a generous stipend to do so. And for the sake of comparison, Lululemon, the popular athleisureapparel maker, allows its corporate employees to dress freely, wearing leggings to work if they so choose.
What mayÂ be unusual, however, is for a company that touts female empowerment and sells â€œbuttery softâ€ clothes to mandate sartorial guidelines, especially when the people attending the convention are not companyÂ employees, per se. To be clear, LuLaRoe did not release that dress code, but in its statement, it did encourage retailers to â€œdress modestly,â€ whatever that means.
Dress codes have been a â€œcause cÃ©lÃ¨breâ€ of late, with the most recent one involvingÂ the U.S. House of Representatives prohibiting women from wearing sleeveless attireÂ and open-toed shoes. Despite selling casual leggings and maxi dresses, LuLaRoe isnâ€™t safe from social mediaâ€™s wrath, it seems.
Christina Hinks, a former LuLaRoe consultant, runsÂ the blog Mommy Gyver, which serves as a virtual support group and sounding board where other dissatisfied consultants ventÂ their LuLaRoe frustrations. Hinks often speaks out about LuLaRoe, but she responded to the unofficial dress code post in a particularly fiery way.
â€œHere they are telling people about empowering women and embracing differences,â€ she wrote, â€œbut if you get on stage at a conference wearing leggings you shouldnâ€™t be, weâ€™re going to call you out? Itâ€™s diminutive, itâ€™s scary.â€
Hinks continued, â€œAnyone going to the convention would think, â€˜Oh god, I haveÂ aÂ chance of being called out in front of thousands of my peers on stage negatively for a dress code?’â€