Chip Wilson, Founder of lululemon, Apologizes. [Video]

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Fantastic—I just found out that I would rather not do yoga than wear certain pieces of my yoga clothing.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” you say?

Well, you may feel differently in a moment or two. Yes, it could get really interesting very quickly if you have purchased any of your fitness wear from lululemon or care about women, as individual human beings, in any genuine capacity.

In a story that is becoming more intriguing by the day, Chip Wilson, the founder of lululemon, has gone on film to apologize for his recent interpretation and apparent disconnect about how certain women’s bodies “just don’t actually work” in his company’s pants.

Say what?

Yoga is about bending, stretching, and during the practice your body parts (including one’s legs) naturally touch one another, right?

In order to comprehend the problem, one first needs to understand that, according to Chip, some women have thighs that rub together. Oh my! How did it come to this? He explains it to us in his recent interview with Bloomberg TV:

I didn’t feel any better after viewing his short and not so sweet apology. But for the sake of thoroughness, here it is for your viewing pleasure:

 ed’s note: this video strikes me as decent acting. I’d prefer he just stand by his original statement, that lulu can’t be everything to every body. ~ ed.

Although Chip may have apologized, the damage has been done.

I don’t believe he can change the harm caused by his statements, written and oral, through an apology alone.

Can a person really take back an intolerant string of comments that carve a path (or dig a ditch) along the same line of thinking? When there is a pattern, more needs to be done.

Our parents were right, folks—actions speak louder than words. If he’s going to walk the walk of his apology, he would be wise to work on himself and educate himself on women’s rights.

It is also mind boggling that the company’s stores only hang up the smaller sized clothing on hangers, and if you want a bigger size, you will have to dig through stacked piles in the rear of the store to find what you need.

When did sizes 10 and 12 become such an affliction to the customers’ eyes that they could no longer be displayed on a hanger? Does lululemon think that petite women will see the larger sizes and run out of the store?

lululemon is apparently following a shaming practice of shunning ‘larger’ women.

The average woman in America wears a size 14, so sizes 10 and 12 are actually on the small size for at least half of us. lululemon is not the only store to do this, but nonetheless, this does not display good business practices.

The company also recently seemed to mock a domestic abuse charity by placing off-putting signage onto their Dallas store front windows. “We do partners yoga, not partners card,” the sign read, referring to the nonprofit’s “Partners Card,” a discount card that offers purchasers bargains at local businesses and supports Family Place programs.”

To lululemon’s credit, the sign was taken down and they tried to patch things up with the charity by offering free yoga and apologizing on Facebook, according to the article.

The company is also quoted in the above piece as saying, “Our product and design strategy is built around creating products for our target guest in our size range of 2-12.” And fair enough, they go on to try to explain why they do this, but what about those who wear the sizes 10 and 12? Why are these women being served and treated differently? What about the other half of USA’s women who are larger than a size 12?

What is fair about their experience with lululemon?

It would seem obvious that there is a huge market for yoga wear amongst women of larger proportions, but why does lululemon choose not to provide them with clothing in their size? Is it that they don’t want their brand being worn by people who they might consider less attractive due to their physical proportions?

This is the only logical conclusion that I can come to. Why else would a company not want to increase their sales? What are we supposed to think about this?

We must also consider what this does to a woman who is shopping and has to jump through hoops that others do not just to get her size.

To add to their troubles, lululemon has also been involved in a lawsuit since March, when the CEO sold a crap-load of her stock before stepping down, but I diverge—back to Chip Wilson, and what is not being reported on by all major sources:

There was a blog that was removed from his site for obvious reasons a couple days ago, but can be unearthed on the internet archives. Chip makes claims that women who practice yoga are Super Girls raised by Super Women. I would caution that his idea of what makes a Super Girl is more than slightly twisted. In fact, his words are outlandish.

I went from laughing away his stupidity to being extremely angry by the time I read his blog, in its entirety.

This is the stuff of fiction—right?

No so called well-educated founder of a yoga clothing company could possibly believe that the birth control pill eventually led to the practice of yoga in the United States. And yet, if I followed the poorly written dribble and twisted logic correctly on the page, I think this is, at least in part, what he was trying to conclude.

Correlating women who smoked while on birth control to those who got breast cancer is also a bold association to make, even if it was a light association.

There are plenty of non-smokers who never took a birth control pill, who also got breast cancer. This kind of statement is bound to rub women the wrong way and put them on the defensive—kind of like when Chip spoke about his company’s yoga pants being rubbed the wrong way by women’s thighs.

Unaware consumers and people in the media should seriously understand, and most importantly know, that this man is not just a one trick pony when it comes to his view points.

As Chip himself, sums it up:

“Ultimately, lululemon was formed because female education levels, breast cancer, yoga/athletics and the desire to dress feminine came together all at one time. lululemon saw the opportunity to make the best technologically advanced components for the Super Girl market.”

It’s tragic that Chip didn’t come along sooner to save more women from their terrible states of being with his magical, pilling, see-through, $100 yoga pants.

editor’s note: we’ve discussed lulu’s lack of green before. We’ve also covered many great things they’ve done. Here’s an ad we loved. Here’s another. We’ve also discussed their questionable-at-best love for Mr. Galt. They’re often controversial. It’s their right to be. I’d argue that it’s not their right not to make their wares overseas, or out of plastic, without green aspects.  ~ ed.

Both men and women should be wary of this company’s way of doing business and make an informed decision for themselves about what was meant by what Chip Wilson wrote and said.

Yes, people will interpret these statements differently, but I don’t think this should all be tucked beneath a rock and forgotten about. One statement might have been apologized away, but when you look at the sum of the issues, it is a boulder that is needed to cover them all up.

I am not alone in some of the opinions and conclusions that I have personally come to.

Rebecca Hains, media coverage professor and author, had this to say:

“Who knew that being the tenth-richest man in Canada makes Wilson qualified to determine that sexually active career women bring cancer on themselves?”

She has championed a petition to hold Chip responsible for his words and actions and I, for one, will be signing it.

 

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Creative Commons.}

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anonymous Nov 15, 2013 2:06pm

I have been thinking about this more. I just called my local lululemon and asked if I could return their clothes based on being insulted by Chip Wilson. If everyone walked in with all of their lulu clothes, we would really make an impact. I can't promise that you will get them to give you your money back. Maybe best to say that you aren't happy with them, which, for me, is true.

anonymous Nov 14, 2013 3:42pm

I worked for the company for some years, including the first store they opened in Australia. I had breakfast with Chip, I was immersed in the ‘culture’, often caught up in the hype, and I did what I was told. In the end, I left feeling jaded and emotionally exhausted by a whole company of people who preached authenticity daily and practiced it never. Including Chip, from what I witnessed. He was a one-man show. We, as conscious consumers, can simply stop buying this and any brand that we feel is not in line with our own values (my main problem with lululemon was the social and environmental impact of their practices), which is what I did even before I left. However, for me at least, as a human being who does her best to live the basic principles of yoga every day, the big lie that this company has ANYTHING to do with yoga is what grates my nerves. Just be true to what you are, lululemon, then you’ll have nothing to apologise for.

    anonymous Nov 14, 2013 7:37pm

    Hi Phoebe,

    Thank you so much for your comments. Yes, we are lucky that we can speak with our money and that we have other places to shop if we choose to. I have a feeling that lululemon will be feeling an economic repercussion fairly quickly and that their stock will show evidence of this unless they do a lot to right their ship. There is now a press firestorm over all of this. I'm sorry that you weren't happy working there. It is always good to work at something that you are passionate about and I hope you have found that something!

    All the best to you,

    Laura

anonymous Nov 14, 2013 11:08am

After reading this enlightening article, I have the following comment to make:

All women should be honored for their individuality and worth – not for a male preconceived ideal.

    anonymous Nov 14, 2013 7:56pm

    Hi Diana,

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I could not put what you said any better. You are very wise.

    All the best!

    Laura

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 9:46pm

Dear Kate,

Yes, it seems to be true that not all of lululemon's stores are as bad as others (from my experience and from what I have been told). You touched on some really good and important points in your comment. I think the main one was that you can be a larger size and in great shape! What about those who are very tall and/or have a larger frame? Or those who are very muscular, or even those who exercise regularly, but just naturally are a bigger size? It is all about acceptance! Acceptance, tolerance, and basic respect for the individuality of all humans—women and men alike! Thank you so much for reading and for your thought-provoking comments.

Best,

Laura

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 8:18pm

Some of what Chip said is true (i.e. thigh rubbing causing pilling) and some of it is not something a CEO of a yoga apparel company should ever say. However, not all of your article is accurate. A former Lulu employee did say that sizes 10-12 are in a heap in the back of the store, but that is definitely not the story at all stores. Before starting law school, at which point I could no longer justify spending $110 on yoga pants, I frequented 5 different stores in Los Angeles, including the stores on Robertson Blvd and Beverly Blvd. If stores were likely to just pile up large sizes, I assume these two stores would be on the list. I wear sizes 8-12 depending on what I am buying and I can say that 100% of the time my sizes have been found folded or hanging with the size 2's. But, on the other hand, I know for a fact that at the very least the Lululemon's in LA will only hire very thin women, and they actually hire many from the anorexic/recovering anorexic crowd. So while I have always been treated with total respect in the stores, and was remembered by many employees at the Studio City store, it would be nice to see women larger than a size 2-4 working in store. Chip doesn't seem to realize you can easily be a size 8-12 and still be athletic/in shape.

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 7:29pm

Let's be honest. Chip never apologized. He apologized for how this has affected the employees of Lululemon and how they have had to suffer the repercussions of his actions. Period. There was no apology to the thousands of women and consumers he has offended. Pathetic. I have never bought a pair of pants from Lululemon and I never will. Also, considering I'm a size 10/12, I don't like to hunt through piles of clothes to find anything!

    anonymous Nov 13, 2013 9:31pm

    Dear Hayley,

    I feel the same way about the apology and know that we are not the only ones who feel this way.

    I find it especially sad that this man, who has gotten so wealthy off of the mindful among us, can't give a heartfelt apology about things that he has said and did to those who purchase items from his store! What about the patrons? Did he forget that 'we' made him rich?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read my article and I appreciate that you took the time to comment!

    Laura

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 6:24pm

Wow. How Lululemon Came into Being article, is partial proof that Lulu with its (mistaken for) "Omega" logo was always intended for those alpha sorority betches.

However, most of them still do not want pants that fall apart …

    anonymous Nov 13, 2013 8:47pm

    Thank you so much for reading and leaving your feedback! No, nobody want's subpar anything that they pay good money for.

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 3:28pm

Thanks so much for mentioning me in this article, Laura! I would just like to personally ask your readers to please sign our petition. We've got 1200 signatures so far and it's still going strong. Every signature really matters. Thanks!
http://www.change.org/lululemon

    anonymous Nov 13, 2013 3:49pm

    You are so welcome Rebecca! I signed my name already! Hope this helps get you some more signatures. I hope people will check out your blog too- very informative. You nailed it when you said, "By the way: Has anyone else noticed that Chip Wilson's recent "apology" video was only an apology for the repercussions of the interview–not for his words themselves? He has not shown any signs of understanding what the problem was with his statement. It's infuriating." Thanks for reading the article!!

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 1:00am

Helen, what a wonderful surprise! Thank you very much for your kind words… 🙂

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Laura Kutney

Laura Kutney resides in Northern California with her true-love of 23 years. She is the grateful mom of three incredible children ages 17, 19 and 21.

She finds inspiration for her writing in just about everyone she knows and in all that she does.

She is passionate about her family, pets, writing, philosophy, nature, good friends, art, books, and photography.

She is driven by truth and the belief that apathy is the single most deadly weapon of mass destruction.

She enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and research based articles about anything and everything that moves her heart.

You can find her on Mosaic Commons, here, on the elephant journal as an author, and Twitter.