Lululemon Founder Says ‘Unhealthy’ People In Ads Are ‘Not Inspirational,’ Blasts ‘Diversity And Inclusion Thing’

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Alexander Pease Contributor
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Lululemon founder Chip Wilson has choice words for how the yoga-centric sportswear company he created has employed marketing strategies oriented around diversity, equity and inclusion since his departure.

The Canadian multi-billionaire Wilson laid out disdain for Lululemon’s “whole diversity and inclusion thing” and the fact that ad campaigns feature plus-size models, which the businessman dubbed as looking “unhealthy,” “sickly” and ultimately amounting to a style of marketing that’s “not inspirational,” during an interview with Forbes.

“They’re trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody,” Wilson told the outlet, speaking of the new direction of the brand he founded years ago.

But isolating certain customers isn’t always such a bad thing if it’s in the interest of the brand being more exclusive, the founder suggested. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion-inspired marketing opens the door for a broader clientele in Wilson’s interpretation.

“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 said. (RELATED: ‘Let The Theft Occur’: Lululemon CEO Defends Firing Employees After Shoplifters Hit Store)


Wilson has increasingly detached himself from the company throughout the years since exiting from the company in 2013 after stating that “Frankly some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for [yoga pants],” according to CNBC.

Since 2015, Wilson has sold off roughly 75% of his stake in the company, according to Forbes. (RELATED: Tech Firms Slash Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Dept’s To The Bones, Surprising No One)

Had he not sold so much of his share, the outlet estimated that Wilson would be worth more than $20 billion.

As it stands, Wilson retains an 8% stake in total in the company and is reportedly worth close to some $7 billion, according to a separate wealth profile from Forbes.

When Wilson founded the athleisure company famous for its yoga pants in 1998, he began with but one brick-and-mortar store in the city of Vancouver, per the profile.