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Lululemon Founder Blasts Diversity Efforts: ‘You Don’t Want Certain Customers Coming In’

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson made waves after blasting the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, making it clear that “You don’t want certain customers coming in.”

Speaking to Forbes, Wilson, whose net worth could exceed $7 billion, criticized the direction the famed upscale activewear company is going in.

“They’re trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody,” he told the outlet, adding, “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, making the remarks over a decade after he stepped down from his company following controversy rooted in the “body positivity” movement. At the time, there were critics who asserted that some of the brand’s yoga leggings were see-through. Wilson responded by pointing out that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for the famed leggings.

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

To this day, Wilson still has what Forbes described as a “flurry of grievances” about the direction of the company, including featuring people in ads who look “unhealthy” and “not inspirational,” and of course, the DEI initiatives, which Lululemon has branded its “Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Action (IDEA) mission.”

“Expand being well to encompass a culture of inclusion where diversity is celebrated, equity is the norm, and action is the commitment,” is how Lululemon’s website explains that mission.

A message on the site from CEO of Lululemon Athletica, Calvin McDonald, says the company is in the “midst of a journey to drive meaningful, lasting change in the world and promote well being across our communities.

“As part of our Impact Agenda we are accelerating programs to become a more inclusive and diverse company,” he says.

The message continues:

DEA – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action – focuses on making systemic changes. By standing up and funding IDEA, and creating our commitments, we are determined to be accountable, engaged and to act in allyship.

Our actions thus far include expanding the IDEA team globally, establishing employee-led resource groups (ERGs), and leveraging our brand and our voice to stand against hate and discrimination around the world.

We are proud of the progress we’re making, and are ensuring that IDEA is an essential element of lululemon’s culture that we will continue to embrace and grow.

The company’s commitments include increasing funding to “accelerate actions and create accountability for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action,” creating an “ongoing dialogue between underrepresented members of our collective,” expanding training to support DEI, and increasing “diverse representation” among employees and the collective.

That is not Wilson’s only gripe, either. According to Forbes, he views the brand stepping into “fashion-focused apparel like men’s dress shirts” as “appalling.”

“[These clothes are] only selling at a high price because of the Lululemon technical products,” Wilson told the outlet. “It ends up being what I call bad profits.”

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