Lululemon's billionaire founder Chip Wilson recently sat down for an interview with Forbes where he stated that his company "isn't for everyone." The yoga-inspired athletic apparel company's former CEO is receiving backlash for his comments saying the brand was “trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody,” which according to Wilson, contradicts the notion of what a brand is. “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 told Forbes. Wilson also spoke about his dislike of the company's "whole diversity and inclusion thing" stating that the people picked for the campaign took "unhealthy," "sickly" and “not inspirational."
When asked about Wilson's comments, a Lululemon spokesperson said “Chip Wilson does not speak for lululemon. His comments do not reflect our company views or beliefs. Chip has not been involved with the company since his resignation from the board in 2015 and we are a very different company today.”
Wilson is no stranger to public scrutiny for his comments. In a 2013 television interview with Bloomberg, Wilson said that his leggings "don't work for some women's bodies" after the signature black yoga pants were pulled from shelves for being see-through. “Frankly some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for the pants. It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.” Wilson also revealed that he picked the name "Lululemon" as a way to mock Japanese people because of their "difficulty pronouncing the letter L." Wilson stated, “It’s funny to watch them try and say it.”
Wilson stepped down as chairman in 2013, one month after his comments made about women's bodies during his Bloomberg interview. “Removing him as the leader of the board is important, but having him there in some form is also an important thing because he founded the company. He just doesn’t edit himself very well sometimes,” said Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser. “You want that founder to be influential in some way, you just don’t want him to overwhelm.”