Recently, I read an article about a popular active wear line, Fabletics, called "Is Kate Hudson's 'Fabletics' a scam?" In it, the author explained how she unknowingly signed up for the line's VIP program after making what she thought was a one-off purchase, and subsequently questioned the companies policies.
If you've ever visited Pinterest, any fitness site or online store that sells active wear, chances are you've seen Fabletics' extremely pervasive promotion of "$25 for your first outfit!" After annihilating potential customers from every angle via online ads, people (like me) typically give in to see what it's all about. You purchase an outfit, and then are enrolled in the program, where you give the company permission to bill you $49.95 each month (which goes toward the purchase of an outfit), unless you decide to "skip" the month by the 5th day.
I was a VIP for a number of months, and a few of the items were cute – but, more than a few were either flimsy or didn't match the photo. I eventually called to cancel the account (I didn't have any of the issues that the author of the article mentioned), and that was that.
So, I don't think Fabletics is necessarily a scam. I think most people are clear what they're signing up for when they enroll, and at least for me, it was easy to cancel.
I do, however, think Fabletics is a bad deal for the consumer, and here's why:
When I first began thinking about starting an active wear company, I admit that my first idea was to purchase "blanks," or blank pieces that are already produced, usually from China. I toyed with the idea of ordering these from overseas and then doing any labeling, printing, and packaging here in the U.S.
When I signed up for an account on the online marketplace Alibaba to browse for blanks, something caught my eye. I saw for sale the exact items I had seen on the Fabletics site -- for between $5 and $12 USD apiece. A typical Fabletics outfit price is somewhere between $49.95 and $79.95.
I felt duped. There they are, in plain sight, selling for much less than we pay for the exact same items, just with a fancy label attached. It makes me wonder where the rest of that money goes – since the cost of labor is already included in the Alibaba price, something tells me the workers aren't seeing any of that profit.
To be fair, it isn't just Fabletics that does this. I'm sure there are plenty of other companies out there who purport to produce "high quality" active wear that is actually mass produced for pennies overseas. Slap on a label, add a celebrity face, and voila! Instant money maker.
The sad part is, it works. Most of us (and this included me, for most of my life), don't know much about where our clothes come from. We give way too much trust to labels, simply due to the celebrity endorsement or the cute patterns or the low cost or the trend of the week.
But there is nothing original about Fabletics, and there's nothing really exceptional about the products. That's why it's better, when possible, to purchase USA-made, from small labels and independent designers.
For that same $80, you can get a high-quality, unique piece of active wear that can be worn many times over, that's produced ethically and with care, knowing that the workers who produced it are paid a living wage.
And with Cause I Run, you're also making a conscious decision to choose recycled materials, making less of an impact on the environment – and you're taking the opportunity to give to a good cause.
As consumers, we have an enormous amount of power every time we take out our wallet. Yet we are taken advantage of when we do not know about the process or origin of the items we purchase.
And, it's not easy. Like I said before, I am still learning how to change my shopping habits, and I'm not perfect. But in joining Cause I Run on this journey, you are taking the first step to use your consumer power for good.
Who's with me? Join the email list if you haven't already, to get updates on our Kickstarter campaign, launching this winter.