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@PRADAXBBY/X ColleenMichaels/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

‘He doesn’t make his clothes for women who look like us’: Did the founder of Lululemon say he didn’t want Black people to wear his clothes? (updated)

‘I wouldn’t dare spend my money on this.’


Natasha Dubash


Athleisure brand Lululemon has faced its fair share of race-based controversies, a number of them led by company founder Chip Wilson. 

Fortune reports that Wilson said he didn’t want “certain customers” buying Lululemon. Many took that to mean he didn’t want Black people buying Lululemon. Wilson, according to Business Insider, has also made anti-Asian, sexist, and fatphobic comments. He even told Canada’s National Post Business Magazine that he came up with the name Lululemon because it is difficult for Japanese consumers to pronounce the letter L. 

The Daily Dot reached out to Lululemon via email and Wilson via Instagram direct message for more information.

Recently, several Black creators on X have been wondering why customers of color continue to support the brand after Wilson’s comments. 

X user Tt. (@__NoOther) was one person who recently called out the brand. Reposting a video from @pradaxbby, in which she shows off a pink jacket and shorts set from the brand, Tt. accused customers of being “spineless.”

“This man came out and blatantly said he doesn’t want our people wearing his clothes and y’all out here promoting the sh*t like yall get paid to wear it,” the X user posted, seemingly referring to the Lululemon founder’s past comments about not wanting “certain customers coming in.” 

X user Lisa “left eye” Lopez (@_NoCatfish) also slammed @pradaxbby in response to a video showing off a large Lululemon haul. “The owner said he doesn’t make his clothes for women who look like us. I wouldn’t dare spend my money on this sh*t,” Lopez wrote.

The post received 784,000 views and 17,000 likes. Tt.’s received 8.2 million views and almost 250 responses, with several other users in agreement. 

“Exactly but I bet it’s a black business selling sum similar and ain’t gettin no support,” one commenter wrote.

However, a number of people argued that since Wilson is no longer the owner of the company, it doesn’t matter if Black consumers support the brand. 

As one person said, “He left the brand in 2015 and his name was chip Wilson. Not the current CEO Calvin McDonald who is trying to make the brand more ‘inclusive’. Idk I like the sets imma still wear them f*ck what chip talking bout.”

While Lululemon’s founder stepped down from running the company over 10 years ago, a report from Fortune points out that despite not being directly linked to the company, he continues to benefit from its success. 

“Wilson has added almost $4 billion to his net worth since 2020, nearly all because of the rise in value of his 8% stake in Lululemon stock,” the article informs. And while there appears to be no evidence of the founder explicitly stating that he does not want Black people wearing Lululemon, Wilson has a long history of controversial statements. 

How has the brand moved on since then?

Since Wilson stepped away from running the company in 2015, the company has initiated an increase in inclusive marketing and a commitment to diversity initiatives. However, consumers and staff at the company have suggested that these efforts are hollow gestures.

According to Business of Fashion, several staff members have said these initiatives were started to protect the company’s public image and that Black employees within the company are routinely denied job advancements and opportunities in favor of their white colleagues. 

Lululemon has also had its missteps without its founder at the helm. In March 2020, the Daily Dot reported that an art director at the brand shared a racist T-shirt design on Instagram. The design depicted a pair of chopsticks and a Chinese takeout box with bat wings and the words “No Thank You,” referencing the debunked myth that Chinese people eating bat soup caused the COVID-19 outbreak.

Why do Black consumers buy Lululemon?

Fashion and costume historian Shelby Ivey Christie weighed in on the discourse on X, arguing that there is a deeper reason Black consumers continue to support brands like Lululemon that many netizens argue don’t value Black consumers. 

Christie writes, “The belief that aligning with what is perceived as exclusive white spaces/things elevates the individual + how they’re perceived. A broad example of this: desegregation + great migration when many relocated to white neighborhoods where they knew they were unwanted + where harm took place.”

Christie argues that after desegregation, a number of Black people with the financial means left their communities to live in whiter areas, which resulted in a drain of resources from the already underserved Black neighborhoods. She concludes that this behavior continues to extend to patterns among Black consumers as they attempt to participate in “white/exclusive spaces” in order to gain perceived affluence.

The Daily Dot reached out to Tt. and Lopez via comment on X and to Christie via email for more information.

Update 8:00am CT, May 24: In an email to the Daily Dot, a Lululemon company spokesperson shared the following statement:

“At lululemon, fostering an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming environment is a top priority. We go to great lengths to create an environment where everyone can feel valued and can have a sense of belonging when shopping with us. We are proud of all who choose to wear our products and remain committed to advancing our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Action (IDEA) efforts.”

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