Lululemon ‘pushed for All Lives Matter’ campaign

Employees at the athletics brand Lululemon say they felt pressured to create an All Lives Matter campaign after the death of George Floyd, which would be displayed on its website, according to a report from Business Insider.

The phrase “All Lives Matter” has been adopted by some members of the right and is widely recognised as minimising the importance of the meaning of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

During the creation of the campaign an unnamed company director, who had not been involved in the early stages of the project, told a number of employees at Lululemon: “We are not writing Black Lives Matter. That’s not where we’re at.” The director demanded that the group working on the campaign use new “approved copy”. Near the beginning of the proposed text, the phrase “all lives matter” appeared in capital letters.

Business Insider also reports that employees pushed back, but were told that they had to move forward with approved language. They created two mock-ups, one with All Lives Matter and another with Black Lives Matter. While Black Lives Matter was ultimately selected, one unnamed employee told the publication that they felt “triggered and traumatised” by the incident, and said it was “one of the most disgusting moments” of their time at the company. They said: “After all of these Black employees, all these people of colour, said we cannot go forward with this and please don’t make us have to mock this up for you – and her saying we have to do it – it was a very traumatic experience.” The director subsequently apologised to 200 members of the company for the incident on a conference call, although many of those on the call were unaware of the events being discussed. The director subsequently left Lululemon.

After the BLM protests in May 2020, the brand posted a supportive message on Instagram, which said: “This matters. So we’re speaking up. We haven’t always got it right. Over the years, it made us question if we had a right to speak up. And we are privileged to have a voice and a platform. So … know we are not indifferent. Far from it. We are passionate about every single human being valued.” It added it was donating $100,000 (£73,000) to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a non-profit bail fund.

Last year, Reuters reported that a senior global art director at the company, Trevor Fleming, shared a link to a T-shirt design featuring a slogan that was seen by many as anti-Asian. Designed by an artist named Jess Sluder, the shirt featured a Chinese takeout box with bat wings and the slogan “Bat Fried Rice”. It featured on his web store before being removed. On Instagram, Sluder posted the T-shirt with the caption: ‘Where did Covid-19 come from? Nothing is certain, but we know a bat was involved. Beginning today, my limited edition #quarantees are now available. Link in bio or DM for details … Thank you for your support and sense of humour! #humornothat #batfriedrice.”

Lululemon issued a statement confirming that the shirt was not one of their designs and that “the person involved is no longer an employee of Lululemon”. Fleming said at the time: “It is something I deeply regret, and my eyes have been opened to the profound ripple effect that this mistake has had.” The Guardian has asked Sluder for comment.

In response to the All Lives Matter claims in the Business Insider article, Stacia Jones, a vice-president and the head of inclusive, diversity, equity and action at Lululemon, said: “We are proud of the progress we are making to become more diverse, inclusive and equitable across all aspects of the employee experience, from recruiting and hiring to leadership and development. We recognize our history on diversity and inclusion is not perfect, but we are a different company today. We hold each other accountable to embody our value of inclusion and create an ongoing dialogue with our employees and collective.”

The company is one of the largest sporting brands in the US, reporting a revenue in 2020 of $4.4bn.



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