Saturday, July 14, 2012

Caveat Emptor - Why I Returned My Pow Define Today

front of the jacket I ordered from the website
Stitching on the sleeve from a jacket in the store
It was with great reluctance I returned my Pow Pink Define today. I really, really wanted to keep it because I love the color but the stitching on the front of the jacket was just too bad on too great an area of the jacket for me to live with. I have a Potion Purple that has seams that are getting rough in a couple of areas after two years of use so I know what this jacket is going to look like:

Rough seams on the arm of my Potion Define

My Potion jacket has been well-used over the past two years but it's about ready to take a trip to the store to see if they can fix these seams. (And yes, I'd say Potion is one of the worst colors I've run across as far as wear is concerned. Sometimes that happens - certain colors wear worse than others.)

You can even see some of the poor stitching on the photo of the jacket on the website. Well, you used to be able to see it when the jacket was in stock.  My Pow Define had bad stiching in several areas - on the front, both forearms and along one side of rectangle in the back of the jacket. If it had only been a small area or two I might have chosen to live with it and have the store seamstress take a crack at fixing it when the time came but it was an all-over problem. The fact that it's decorative stitching on a light color makes getting it repaired that much more of a crapshoot, too. Sometimes the store seamstress doesn't do such a hot job at the stitching. It's not a problem if it's on the hem of dark pants but when it's front and center on a bright jacket then I become reluctant to gamble on it. I also buy with an eye to reselling in a couple of years and I prefer not to have to heavily discount my used stuff for wear that isn't my fault.

It also wasn't just my jacket with a problem. I took a look at three jackets at one store last week and another five today at a different store. They all had major issues with the stitching. Ever since Stride jackets had a problem with the sleeves developing rough stitching (two, three years ago?) I always inspect any jacket for bad seams and this is the worst Define I have ever seen. It's a shame because the color is beautiful. However, on a happier note, the store I went to today happened to have a lone Bruised Berry Define in my size so I got that instead. The Bruised Berry Define has solid stitching and was made in another country (Cambodia vs. the China-made Pow Pink Define). The Bruised Berry also has the normal heavier weight, stiffer luon I prefer in a jacket. The Pow is very stretchy and light weight, almost like a light luon feel. I know some people have described the Bruised Berry as being scratchy but I think it feels normal. Another thing I didn't like about the Pow Define is that the mesh panel in the back is white and not Pow:

Tag from Pow Define. It shows the white mesh used on the interior.
In all my other Defines, the mesh always matches a color used in the jacket. 

It's a major bummer that the quality has declined so much -  it seems quality just went off a cliff from the occasional bad apple to nearly across-the-board junk. You really have to practice defensive buying - thoroughly inspecting a piece before you buy, deciding how fragile something is, deciding whether you can live with bleeding. Most of my recent buying has been basics that haven't had too many problems - Swiftly tanks, Cool Racerbacks, and headbands. The high resale value of lululemon also factors heavily into my purchase equations. I know quite a few of you are saying try this brand or that brand but I still get a nice percentage back on my lulu investment when I sell it so I cannot discount that factor. I am starting to look around a bit and checked out some Zella (still not a fan except for the USA-made nylon stuff) while I was in the mall today.

PS - Regarding bleeding and the cold/hot/hot wash technique. I did the wash on my Pow and Flash Dune Cool Racerbacks. It seemed to have worked. I didn't have any bleeding on either and the purple circles I got in the armpit of the Flash/Dune CRB didn't come back. I wore the Flash/Dune CRB with a white bra the other day with no problems. I've read comments that the technique didn't work so well on Flash luxtreme items - it tended to fade those items and they still get purple streaks when they dry. I think Flash and Ray luxtreme are two of the worst bleeders as far as problems I've read about.

Spotted in Stores - Caspian Blue No Limit Tank

Spotted in a store - a Caspian Blue No Limit Tank. The bra has the new zigzag pattern we've seen on the yoga towel. I'm pretty sure these are only at strategic partner stores not lulu stores. Thanks to Kathy for the photo.