Lululemon founder slams brand’s diversity and inclusion efforts: ‘You don’t want certain customers coming in’


The founder of activewear brand Lululemon has slammed his old company over its diversity and inclusion efforts in recent years.

Chip Wilson, 68, founded Lululemon in 1998, was CEO of the yoga wear brand until 2007, and stepped down as chairman of the company’s board in 2013 after some controversial comments sparked public outrage. Still, Wilson holds an eight per cent stake in the company and has continued to make his thoughts on Lululemon known over the years.

In his latest review of the popular brand, the billionaire told Forbes that he’s against “the whole diversity and inclusion thing” that Lululemon was doing.

Wilson complained in the interview that the activewear chain was using ‘unhealthy”, “sickly”, and “not inspirational” people in their adverts.

Chip Wilson, founder of lululemon
Chip Wilson, founder of lululemon, has slammed the brand’s diversity and inclusion efforts. (Getty Images)

The founder told the publication that he felt Lululemon had become “like the Gap, everything to everybody.”

He continued: “I think the definition of a brand is that you’re not everything to everybody.

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“You’ve got to be clear that you don’t want certain customers coming in.”

In 2020, Lululemon’s CEO Calvin McDonald announced that the brand would offer inclusive sizing to its customers, ranging from sizes 0-20. A quick skim through their advertisements and social media channels will show customers a diverse range of models across a wide range of body types and ethnicities.

When approached for comment, a spokesperson for Lululemon told Newsweek: “Lululemon is committed to creating and fostering an inclusive, diverse and welcoming environment throughout our organization and across our communities.

Chip Wilson suggested that brands have “got to be clear that you don’t want certain customers coming in.”(Getty Images)

“We have made considerable progress since launching our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action (IDEA) function, and we are proud of the goals we have achieved.

“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. We remain steadfast in our commitment to become a more inclusive and diverse company.”

This isn’t the first time that Wilson has made controversial public statements about Lululemon’s marketing and clientele in recent years.

In a 2013 interview with Bloomberg, Wilson sparked horror and upset when he claimed: “Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for [the pants they sell].

“It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure os there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

The comments made in the TV interview sparked calls for Wilson’s resignation. After stepping down as chairman in 2013, he left the board entirely in 2015.

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