Hobbit Business Review

Lululemon Founder Bashes Company’s ‘Diversity and Inclusion’, Calls Models ‘Not Inspirational’: ‘You’re Not Everything to Everybody’

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson does not believe the company is going in the right direction and is doubling down on his controversial commentary from the past.

Wilson, who was ousted as CEO in 2013 and stepped down as chairman of the board in 2015, told Forbes in an interview this week that he doesn’t approve of the activewear company’s push towards size inclusivity and diversity.

“They’re trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody,” he said harshly. “I think the definition of a brand is that you’re not everything to everybody.”

He also proposed that companies, specifically athletic-wear brands, need to “be clear that you don’t want certain customers coming in” and said Lululemon’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing” featured models in advertisements that looked “unhealthy” and “not inspirational.”

Controversial comments are not new for Wilson, who sent shockwaves through the industry in a 2013 interview with Bloomberg when he was asked about the quality of the company’s pants, specifically complaints that the fabric pilled easily and were deemed see-through by customers.

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it,” Wilson said at the time. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

Lululemon spoke out about Wilson’s most recent comments in a statement to Bloomberg.

“Chip Wilson does not speak for Lululemon, and his comments do not reflect our company views or beliefs,” a spokesperson for Lululemon told the outlet. “Chip has not been involved with the company since his resignation from the board in 2015, and we are a very different company today.”

The company is currently run by CEO Calvin McDonald, who stepped into the role in 2018 and helped champion the expansion of the maximum sizing of its core products from size 14 to size 20 in 2020.

Though Wilson does not maintain his majority stake in the company after resigning from the Board, his net worth is still an estimated $8.56 billion, thanks to the company’s continued success. Per Forbes, Wilson’s net worth has grown roughly $4 billion since 2020 thanks to Lulu’s continued success and nearly doubling its e-commerce growth in the year 2020 alone.

As of Thursday morning, Lululemon was up just shy of 56% year over year.

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