top of page

Lululemon Founder Disapproves of Diversity and Inclusion Efforts; Explore Other Shopping Options

by Samara Morris

In a recent interview with Forbes, Lululemon's billionaire founder, Chip Wilson, expressed strong opinions on the brand's approach to diversity and inclusion, as well as its advertising choices.

Wilson, who served as the CEO until 2007 and later stepped down as chairman in 2013 amid controversies, criticized Lululemon for becoming too inclusive, comparing it to the Gap and stating that a brand should not try to cater to everyone.


Wilson's comments echo sentiments he expressed in 2013 when he faced backlash for suggesting that "some women's bodies just don't actually work" for Lululemon's yoga pants. Despite stepping down from the board in 2015, Wilson remains a figure associated with the brand. A Lululemon spokesperson clarified that Wilson does not represent the company's views, emphasizing the progress made in inclusion, diversity, equity, and action (IDEA) initiatives.


Lululemon has experienced significant financial success over the past decade, with its stock witnessing a nearly 55% surge in the past year alone. As of the latest trading data, the stock is valued at $498.91 per share, reflecting an over 8% monthly increase. Forbes ranks Lululemon as the seventh-largest apparel company globally, attributing almost $4 billion of the brand's gains since 2020 to Wilson's net worth, which currently stands at $8.81 billion.


Wilson's comments about Lululemon's shift towards inclusivity highlight a divergence in vision between the founder and the current direction of the brand. While Wilson believes a brand should be selective about its customer base, Lululemon has embraced a more diverse and inclusive strategy. The spokesperson's statement underscores the brand's commitment to IDEA initiatives, showcasing the strides made in fostering a more inclusive environment.


Notably, Wilson's departure from Lululemon in 2015 did not diminish his financial ties to the brand entirely. If he had retained his entire 29% stake from 2013, it would be worth $21 billion today. This financial connection indicates that Wilson's opinions, though no longer directly shaping the company, still hold relevance in discussions about Lululemon's past, present, and future.


Beyond the corporate dynamics, Chip Wilson's journey into entrepreneurship and his unconventional approach to branding contribute to the Lululemon narrative. Wilson founded the brand in 1998 and has been vocal about his business strategies, including the unique choice of the name "Lululemon."


In a 2004 interview, he explained that he intentionally included three L's in the name because the sound does not exist in Japanese phonetics. This decision, according to Wilson, aimed to make the brand more exotic and intriguing to Japanese consumers.


In conclusion, Chip Wilson's recent criticisms of Lululemon shed light on the ongoing dialogue surrounding diversity, inclusion, and branding within the company. While his opinions may not align with the current direction of Lululemon, the brand continues to thrive financially. The tensions between the founder's vision and the brand's evolution underscore the complexities of managing a company with a strong founder legacy. But if you're looking for some alternatives, check out these brands below:


LUEQ\.

The LUEQ\. (pronounced Look) was founded in 2006 by Edmond Blanc, a French Fashion Designer, and Quent Dumas, a French Businessman and Fashion Advisor. The pair opened their first brick-and-mortar store in Lyons, France, where LUEQ\. was born. The store sells unique fashion pieces made from wool and cashmere in their ladies’ collection to nylon and spandex for their athleisure basics.


ATHLETA

The brand caters to a diverse range of active lifestyles, offering a wide array of products from workout essentials to athleisure wear. What sets Athleta apart is its commitment to sustainability and ethical practices, reflected in their use of eco-friendly materials and dedication to fair labor standards. Athleta actively promotes body positivity and inclusivity, featuring a diverse range of models in their campaigns to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes.

Comments


bottom of page