HomePop CultureLululemon’s Lunar New Year ad criticized for founder’s anti-diversity comments

Lululemon’s Lunar New Year ad criticized for founder’s anti-diversity comments

Lululemon launched its Lunar New Year collection with an ad titled “Be Spring” featuring Michelle Yeoh on January 12, receiving backlash after the company’s founder’s comments against “diversity and inclusion.”

“Be Spring” stars Michelle Yeoh and theatrical dancers of “Wing Chun,” a form of martial arts, in the backdrop of mountains and rivers in China. Some commenters criticized the athletic apparel company for its collaboration given past incidents with racial stereotypes and statements made by Lululemon’s founder, NextShark reported. 

“Wait…is this an actual joke considering the message from your founder Lululemon,” a commenter on Youtube stated. 

Lululemon recently came under fire for controversial statements made by the company’s founder and former CEO Chip Wilson. In an interview with Forbes, Wilson noted his disapproval of Lululemon’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing,” NBC News reported. 

“They’re trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody,” Wilson said. “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.”

Wilson previously stated his intentions in naming the company “Lululemon” to appeal towards Japanese consumers. 

“I recognized that the Japanese consumer liked a name with an L in it because the letter isn’t in the Japanese language. It sounded American,” Wilson told CNN. “So I thought if I ever have another company I am going to put three L’s in it.” 

Though Wilson resigned from the board in 2015, the founder is still the largest single shareholder of Lululemon, according to NBC News. 

“Lululemon’s founder who still holds a significant portion of its shares is on record as being vocally and proudly anti-Asian and broadly racist. ‘Representation’ means many things but flagrant whitewashing of racism to exploit a community’s purchasing power is NOT one of them,” a commenter on Instagram said. 

Lululemon previously faced criticisms in 2020 after an employee posted a T-shirt design with a bat in a Chinese takeout container, titled “Bat Fried Rice,” NBC News reported. 

“At Lululemon, our culture and values are core to who we are, and we take matters like this extremely seriously,” a spokesperson said at the time. “The image and the post were inappropriate and inexcusable and we do not tolerate this behaviour.”

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