In a recent interview with Forbes, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson made controversial comments about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Wilson expressed his dismay with Lululemon using people who looked unhealthy in advertisements. He started the company in 1998 as a health-centric, athletic clothing company. Wilson also said the company should clarify that they do not want certain people entering the store. Commenters online took this as a racial insult against non-whites. In the interview, however, Wilson spoke about the surf shop he started in 1980 when he did not allow smokers into the store.
The ads he is referring to have obese people who do not fit the model of anything athletic at all. Wilson had spoken about the issue of obesity before, going back to 2013 when he stated that Lululemon’s world-famous leggings have a higher chance of pilling when worn by people of “certain body types,” an apparent reference to overweight women. These comments may have been the beginning of the end of his time at the company he started, as he stepped down as chairman of the board soon after that in 2013. The 68-year-old billionaire officially resigned from Lululemon’s board in 2015 but still owns an 8% share of the wildly successful clothing company.
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