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.

A Shocking Retrospective Of The Lululemon Founder’s (Many) Offensive Comments
[Image: Flickr user Benson Kua]

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 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.


About the author

Rebecca Greenfield is a former Fast Company staff writer. She was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic Wire, where she focused on technology news