Lululemon, the athletic brand, apologized after an art director promoted an offensive “bat fried rice” T-shirt and was related to the COVID-19 virus.
According to Business Insider, the backlash began on Sunday after Trevor Fleming shared a link to a t-shirt designed by California artist Jess Sluder called “bat fried rice” on his Instagram page. The shirt was long-sleeved with images of chopsticks with bat wings on the front and a Chinese takeout box.
“Where did COVID-19 come from? Nothing is certain, but we know a bat was involved,” Sudler captioned.
He continued, “Beginning today, my limited edition #quarantees are now available. Link in bio or DM for details… Thank you for your support and sense of humor! #humornothat #batfriedrice,” according to multiple screenshots shared online.
More #COVID19 racism by linking bats (incorrect virus source; it’s undetermined) with the iconic Chinese American takeout container & fried rice. This is NOT #humornothate. Your laughs and “art” put people’s lives & safety at risk.
— Kevin Huang｜黃儀軒 😷 (@yskevinhuang) April 19, 2020
The post has since been removed but the controversy continues. The brand was accused of xenophobia and racism, especially since Asian Americans have been targeted since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The virus is believed to have originated from bats and the first known case was in Wuhan, China. Many believed that Lululemon was behind the shirt and called for a boycott.
On Tuesday, the company offered a formal apology. They also revealed that Fleming, who had been with them since 2017, no longer works for them.
“At lululemon, our culture and values are core to who we are…The t-shirt design is not a lululemon product. We apologize that an employee was affiliated with promoting an offensive t-shirt, and we take this very seriously.
The image and the post were inappropriate and inexcusable and we do not tolerate this behavior. We acted immediately, and the person involved is no longer an employee of lululemon,” the statement said.
Fleming offered an apology on Instagram and stated, “I deeply apologize for putting the URL in my bio. I did not design the t-shirt, nor did I participate in any part of its creation.”