A Shocking Retrospective Of The Lululemon Founder's (Many) Offensive Comments

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson thinks your thighs are too fat to wear his pants. He also thinks Chinese factory workers enjoy long hours and birth control causes divorce. Among other things.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson sent the Internet into an uproar this week when he blamed women's fat thighs for the transparency and wear-and-tear problems with his company's expensive yoga pants.

"They don't work for some women's bodies. It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it," he said in a recent interview with Street Smart. The comment was in reference to the see-through Luon pants, which the company recalled last year because they were defective. To be clear: the company admitted that the stretchy yoga wear had a problem, not you. In any case, Wilson has successfully alienated a lot of potential customers and embarrassed himself. His brand-tarnishing missteps have even sparked a Change.org petition, which asks that he apologize for shaming women's bodies.

Chip Wilson

But this is far from the first time Wilson has offended. Further investigation reveals that Wilson often lets his misguided thoughts materialize in the form of public statements. Some highlights:

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." [Source]

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." [Source]

And breast cancer:

"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." [Source]

It's "funny" how Japanese people have trouble saying Lululemon:

"It's funny to watch them try and say it." [Source]

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."

Fat people, all of them, are "sensitive."

"Plus-size people are sensitive." [Source]

Despite its cultish status with a certain set, Lululemon has had more than its share of publicity imbroglios throughout the years. In addition to the see-through pants scandal of 2013, it created a negative ad campaign against a battered women's charity, and allegedly discriminates against plus-size women by exiling the larger styles to the back of its stores.

If the $90 price tag wasn't reason enough to give up Lululemon pants, surely these comments are.

[Image: Flickr user Benson Kua]

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65 Comments

  • Jenny Domingues

    Okay Manhater; slow down.

    I think what he's saying is funny AND true too! You might think he's an ah*e, but at least he's transparent. Maybe he wants overweight chicks to stop using his pants as a girdle and start actually living a healthy lifestyle.

    Plus size women are exiled to the back of the store? That's called effective merchandising. You use the front of the store for high turn-over items. Lululemon is an activewear brand; you do the math.

    Rachel, is it that time of the month?

    Signed, Jenny Domingues Women's Kung Fu Club

  • Harry Liang

    Rebecca Greenfield is a Hack Writer at Fast Company, where she misrepresents people and claims they are doing offensive things. She was previously a Staff Writer at The Atlantic Wire, where she focused on technology news. But her work sucked so bad she ended up a link baiter at Fast Co. She really knows nothing about journalism and also appeared at The Atlantic and The Hairpin where she wrote more sensationalist journalism to make up for her lack of skill in reporting. LOL... See I can twist your bio around too!!

  • Harry Liang

    Shotty journalism. Rebecca Greenfield. Selectively quoting people out of context to get readers means you should do something different with your life. Maybe be a gossip columnist.

  • Nancy

    I am a feminist, lefty yoga fan and I came here ready to be angry. :) Truly. And then I read this article. I agree with half his comments and you will be lucky if he doesn't sue you for defamation. Don't pander to idiots. Have some dignity.

  • Lisa M

    Why are people standing up for this guy? Obviously, the company's PR team needs to handle this loose cannon, better. He DID say this crap - out of context or not - it's still harmful to their brand. And the thigh comment, the biggest load of crap ever. My thighs have never not touched my entire adult life and I have perfectly fine yoga and work out pants I've worn for years that are still great. What someone from the company needed to say was 'Sorry - At Lulumon we pride ourselves on creating high quality work out wear for active women and these garments have not met our demanding standards. We apologize for that and will gladly refund your money if you're not happy with your purchase. We are looking into these issues and can assure you that all of our future garments will meet or exceed your expectations. Thanks for supporting us". And then repeat it and stay on topic. It's actually pretty interesting to watch this PR nightmare, of their own making, play out in the social media sphere. It will be a good teaching moment for other companies.

  • Marcella Mccarthy

    Woah! Never mind ethics of journalism. I'm a journalist, and I'm ashamed to be grouped with you. I'm glad other readers realize that what's wrong is your ignorance, and not what he said. I've spent 3 months in China, and working hard is part of their culture.

  • bellafigura1

    Uh, I'm a very touchy feminist and I thought the narrative this guy spins about birth control contributing to divorce rates was pretty close to accurate! That happened, Ms. Greenfield, it really did!

  • Poppe

    Another poorly written article on Fastco, what's going on lately? This is closer to slander than journalism.

  • lululemon sucks!

    This is called 'slave labour'. Using cheap materials and blame on consumers body not suitable for the pants, Really? I will never purchase this brand again.

  • Gowana

    I guess this is one of many articles in FC sites that only serves for one goal.... clicks. Please guys, don't dumb down yourself like Mashable does

  • LP

    Wow, looks like all Chip's Landmark cronies have come out to defend him against this article. Amazing what sexist and alarmingly old-fashioned attitudes will surface from men these days. Disgusting and disrespectful. I feel sorry for your wives and girlfriends, your mothers, sisters, female co-workers, and any other women who cross paths with you.

  • Daniel Licht

    I don't normally comment but this is unethical misquoting is ridiculous. Especially since most people just skim this stuff and read the titles. This is such poor journalism that I think the author, Rebecca Greenfield should make an update article/public apology to Chip. To me this unethical reporting is grounds for dismissal, as it tarnishes the Fast Company brand.

  • Joe Barnas

    I'm liking (and agreeing with) this guy. Finally somebody who's not afraid to say something dubbed as controversial.

  • Harkonnen

    Wow, what a hack-job. Rebecca Greenfield needs some training in journalism. Or was she hired just to create link-bait?

  • Alex

    This is absolutely terrible journalism, but I guess it's to be expected. I've seen more and more respectable media outlets degenerate to the tactics of sensationalist blogs like Gawker in order to spark controversy and get page views. So far, I thought Fast Company posted with pretty good integrity. This paraphrased and sensationalist article isn't a good example of that integrity.