Lululemon’s founder speaks out on the brand’s diversity and inclusion efforts
Though no longer with the company, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson has a lot to say about the brand’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing.”
Over the past few months, athleisure brand Lululemon has been in the diversity, equity, and inclusion hot seat. After reports of former employees filing complaints of racial discrimination surfaced in November 2023, many were left questioning the brand’s inclusivity practices. Despite the existence of internal programs like IDEA: Inclusion Diversity, Equity, and Action, Lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson, shared his disdain for the company’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing.”
“[Lululemon is] trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody,” said Wilson in a Forbes interview. “And I think the definition of a brand is that you’re not everything to everybody… You’ve got to be clear that you don’t want certain customers coming in.”
He also expressed his distaste for the “unhealthy,” “sickly,” and “not inspirational” appearances of people appearing in today’s Lululemon advertisements. Wilson, who founded the brand in 1998, removed himself from Lululemon’s leadership in 2015 but remains a shareholder with an 8% stake in the brand’s stocks. Both during and since his tenure with the company, the founder has remained outspoken about his opinions, no matter how controversial they may be.
In 2013, Wilson received backlash for seemingly fatphobic comments, saying Lululemon’s leggings “don’t work for some women’s bodies” in response to complaints of the products being see-through. Additionally, he said the brand’s decision not to include plus sizes at the time was because creating plus-size clothing is a “money loser,” per HuffPost. These comments are just a few of the founder’s running list of controversial takes.
Following Wilson’s comments to Forbes, a Lululemon spokesperson reportedly told Fortune that the brand is “committed to creating and fostering an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming environment throughout our organization and across our communities.”
“We also recognize that becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization takes time and is only possible through the sustained efforts of our leaders and our people,” they added. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to become a more inclusive and diverse company.”
In recent years, Lululemon has been working to not only appear more inclusive but also to stray away from any perception of being “basic.” Now, with the help of TikTok trends, Forbes reports the brand’s stocks have risen by nearly 60% over the past year. However, between the founder’s most recent comments and the previous racial discrimination claims, many social media users are left wondering:
“Hmmmm … Who are the certain customers? What might they look like?”
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