“Hello, I’m Chip Wilson. I’m founder of Lululemon athletica. I’d like to talk to you today about the last few days of media that’s occurred around the Bloomberg interview. I’m sad. I’m really sad. I’m sad for the repercussions of my actions. I’m sad for the people at Lululemon who I care so much about, that have really had to face the brunt of my actions. I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. I’m sorry to have put you all through this… For all of you that have made Lululemon what it is today, I ask you to stay in a conversation that is above the fray. I ask you to prove that the culture that you have built cannot be chipped away. Thank you.”
I love my Lulus. I hike, do yoga, walk on the beach, laze around the apartment and grocery shop in them. The flagship store is only one block from my house and I visit regularly to drool over the new colours and styles. I haven’t bought yoga pants for a while so I thankfully missed out on the see-through fiasco, but I have noticed that the quality has been slipping a bit the past few years. Never mind though, I’ve remained a faithful customer. I also live to hike and some of my best memories involve me sitting on top of a mountain dressed in head to toe lululemon, with my sweat whisked away by the magic of luon:
Then, it all changed. And the thing that changed it was Mr. Chip Wilson’s mouth opening and his foot landing directly inside. There was nothing wrong with the quality of lululemon’s pants, Chip said (btw now manufactured in a sweatshop in Bangladesh), the problem was women’s thighs rubbing together causing pilling along with trying to squeeze into a size too small. Sigh. Lululemon, he explained, isn’t made for every woman’s body. Now as much as I love my lulu’s, I hate exclusionary, misogynistic corporations even more. See interview here.
And a few days later Chip issued the statement at the beginning of this post as an apology that wasn’t an actual apology. Well, I guess it was an apology to the people who work at Lululemon. It’s an interesting strategy to only apologize to the people who work at your company but, not so effective for everyone else, I’m thinking.
So my love affair with Lululemon is fading quickly. As a woman, I’ve been through far too many struggles with food and body image to let a clothing company tell me there is something inherently wrong with a woman’s body shape or movement in a lame attempt to cover up a decline in the quality of their product.
Also, I did a little poking around the internet and found a whole boatload of gems spewing from Chip Wilson’s mouth on fastcompany.com and here they are:
Chinese people prefer inhumane working conditions:
“In Canada for instance, 99% of our factory workers are Chinese women sewers. If you were to work them eight-hour days, they will be mad at you. If you only work them five days a week for only eight hours, they’ll say, ‘What are you doing? I don’t want to work for you.’ If you do only work them that much, they walk out of their shift at four o’clock and walk across the street to another factory and work another six hours. This is in Vancouver, in Canada.”
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I really think that the only people desperately wanting to work 14 hours a day, six days a week are people being paid poverty wages and actually have to work this much to survive.
Birth control causes divorce:
“Females no longer had to ‘make’ relationships work because with birth control came a sense of financial and life control. A sense of equality was established because women no longer had to relinquish their independence to a male provider.
“Women’s lives changed immediately. Men’s lives didn’t change however and they continued to search for a stay-at-home wife like their mothers. Men did not know how to relate to the new female. Thus came the era of divorces.”
Really Chip? I’m starting to think that the best form of birth control is your personality.
“Breast cancer also came into prominence in the 1990s. I suggest this was due to the number of cigarette-smoking power women who were on the pill (initial concentrations of hormones in the pill were very high) and taking on the stress previously left to men in the working world.”
And, have we heard of the increasing xenoestrogens in the environment. The scientific community agrees that this is the major cause of he breast cancer epidemic, not working women.
It’s “funny” how Japanese people have trouble saying Lululemon:
“It’s funny to watch them try and say it.”
Factory workers in the “Orient” are in it for the vast riches:
“Ninety-five percent of the factories I’ve seen in the Orient are far better than ones in North America. In China, many people come from the western provinces and their goal is to work seven days a week 16 hours a day, because in five years they want to have a pile of money to go home with and start a business.”
I have only one thing to say about this statement. OMG!
Fat people, all of them, are “sensitive.”
“Plus-size people are sensitive.”
So, Mr. Wilson, all things considered, I think it’s time you exited the company, for its good and your own. You’ve made a ton of money. You have your concrete compound on Cornwall Avenue. Retire. Go hang with the Chili Peppers. Lululemon needs to evolve and it looks like it can only evolve without you.
Your customers are real human beings not barbie dolls. The sooner you figure that out, the better for everyone because, unlike Barbie, sometimes our thighs rub together. And when they do, it would be awesome if our pants didn’t fall apart.