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Lululemon’s Founder, Ex-CEO Rips Company’s ‘Diversity and Inclusion Thing,’ Use of ‘Unhealthy’ Models

Lululemon’s Founder, Ex-CEO Rips Company’s ‘Diversity and Inclusion Thing,’ Use of ‘Unhealthy’ Models

The founder of clothing giant Lululemon doesn’t like what he sees in the company’s advertisements these days.

Chip Wilson, who was chairman of Lululemon’s board and remains a major stockholder in the company, went on a tirade against the models in its recent advertisements during an interview with Forbes published Tuesday.

Wilson voiced disdain for Lululemon’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing.”

Models in some ads, he said, look “unhealthy,” “sickly” and “not inspirational.”

“They’re trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody,” Wilson said.

“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 said.

Wilson’s words are unlikely to change much at Lululemon.

“He can say whatever he wants, but the numbers say the company doesn’t need him,” David Swartz, an analyst at Morningstar who covers Lululemon, told Forbes.

A company representative doubled down on that in a statement to Newsweek.

“Chip Wilson does not speak for Lululemon, and his comments do not reflect our company views or beliefs,” the representative said.

“Chip has not been involved with the company since his resignation from the board in 2015 and we are a very different company today.”

Joanna Schwartz, a marketing professor at Georgia College & State University, said the company’s focus on a niche population that is young, well-off financially and female has been part of its success.

“That has made Lululemon an aspirational brand that represents very high-quality, expensive goods that are rarely significantly discounted,” she told Newsweek.

“It’s also a lifestyle brand that is really captured by some of the word representations they create around their brand ideas, focus on intentionality, oneness and yoga,” Schwartz said.

“I think [Wilson’s] point is that the brand has an exclusive image and he’s saying that they shouldn’t want to be all things to all people, which is a place where the Gap brands live,” she said.

Schwartz indicated she disapproved of what she called “an almost definitional expression of coded language.”

“He clearly sees Lululemon as a brand where a large percentage of the population isn’t welcome,” she said. “In light of that kind of opposition, it’s really impressive that the brand has pushed against that to include a greater racial and ethnic diversity, and by addressing the brand’s formerly long-standing sizeism, which includes a focus almost exclusively on women’s sizes 00-10.”

As noted by the New York Post, back in 2013, Wilson said that not everyone was built in a way that Lululemon’s clothes would fit properly.

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [Lululemon pants],” he said when asked about pants recalled because they were so sheer they showed woman’s buttocks.

“It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there,” Wilson said.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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