Lululemon founder Chip Wilson slams diversity

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By Dan Sears

Lululemon’s billionaire founder Chip Wilson slammed the yoga wear chain’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing” as well as its use of “unhealthy” and “sickly” people in ads, some of which now feature models whom he considers “not inspirational.”

Wilson, who held the CEO title until 2007 and stepped down as chairman of the board in 2013 after he sparked outrage by saying that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for the company’s yoga pants, told Forbes this week that Lululemon has “become like the Gap, everything to everybody.”

By Wilson’s standards, the Vancouver, Canada-based brand should be just the opposite: “I think the definition of a brand is that you’re not everything to everybody,” Wilson told Forbes. “You’ve got to be clear that you don’t want certain customers coming in.”

The remarks show that Wilson hasn’t changed much since 2013, when he was ousted as CEO from the popular brand — which operates over 650 stores around the world — also over a public gaffe that sparked outrage.

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Lululemon’s billionaire founder Chip Wilson told Forbes that in the decade since he’s left his post as CEO, the company has “become like the Gap, everything to everybody.” REUTERS
Wilson bashed Lululemon’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing,” which includes models he claims appear “unhealthy,” “sickly” and “not inspirational.” Lululemon

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [Lululemon pants],” Wilson said when asked about tights recalled this spring that were so sheer, they revealed women’s buttocks.

“It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there,” Wilson added during the shocking TV interview.

He remained on his company’s board through 2015, when he left entirely.

Despite Wilson’s grievances about the business’s moves over the past decade, its stock is up nearly 55% over the past year alone.

And as of Wednesday afternoon, Lululemon was trading at $498.91 per share, a more than 8% monthly increase.

Since 2020, Lululemon’s gains — which have made it the seventh-largest apparel company in the world, according to Forbes — have reportedly added almost $4 billion to Wilson’s total net worth, which was pegged at $8.81 billion.

Wilson could’ve raked in billions more had he held onto his entire 29% stake he had in 2013 — a share that would be worth $21 billion today.

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Representatives for Lululemon did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Wilson, a meditation aficionado, founded Lululemon back in 1998.

Among his most controversial opinions was how he came up with the brand name.

He told Canada’s National Post Business Magazine in a 2004 interview that he specifically came up with a brand name that has three L’s because the sound does not exist in Japanese phonetics.

As of this afternoon, Lululemon was trading at $498.91 per share, a more than 8% monthly increase.

“The reason the Japanese liked [my former skateboard brand, Homeless] was because it had an L in it and a Japanese marketing firm wouldn’t come up with a brand name with an L in it. L is not in their vocabulary. It’s a tough pronunciation for them. So I thought, next time I have a company, I’ll make a name with three Ls and see if I can get three times the money,” Wilson told the outlet.

“It’s kind of exotic for them. I was playing with Ls and I came up with Lululemon. It’s funny to watch them try to say it.”

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