default-output-block.skip-main
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Inside BoF’s Lululemon Investigation

At the Vancouver-based yoga lifestyle juggernaut, being Black is ‘off brand,’ according to months of reporting by BoF’s Sheena Butler-Young.
The experience of the employees who spoke with BoF encapsulates some minorities’ biggest fears regarding how the fashion industry’s diversity efforts would play out after the spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement died down.
The experience of the employees who spoke with BoF encapsulates some minorities’ biggest fears regarding how the fashion industry’s diversity efforts would play out after the spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement died down. (Shutterstock)
BoF PROFESSIONAL

LONDON — About one year ago, our senior correspondent Sheena Butler-Young who covers the Workplace & Talent beat at BoF, began reporting a story on the internal culture at Lululemon, the Vancouver-based yoga lifestyle juggernaut worth more than $50 billion.

This week, following months of investigation, and rigorous editorial and legal reviews, that story — At Lululemon, Being Black Is ‘Off-Brand’ — was finally published. It quickly became one of BoF’s most read stories of 2023 eliciting more than 1,000 comments on Instagram and LinkedIn, which made for worthy reading themselves.

The gist of the story was this: In 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, like many companies, Lululemon took steps to improve internal diversity and inclusion and create a more equitable playing field for people coming from marginalised backgrounds. But in interviews conducted over the past year, 14 current and former employees told The Business of Fashion things at Lululemon only got worse.

They allege that the company has a corporate culture that remains unwelcoming to Black people; where leaders regularly use stereotypes to define minority employees; and where these employees face barriers to career advancement that don’t seem to apply to white colleagues. Employees who spoke up say they were ostracised or even terminated.

As one BoF reader, mdnight.hr on Instagram, wrote: “Every Black person that has ever worked at Lululemon has a story like this. Shoutout to the people being brave enough to go on the record. One day we will all be able to tell our stories.”

Please take the time to read Sheena’s story if you haven’t done so already. It’s a cautionary tale for all creative and business leaders, however well-intended, aiming to create more inclusive places of work.

Don’t Miss BoF VOICES 2023 Next Week

Learn From Industry Icons, Cultural Disruptors and Business Moguls at BoF VOICES 2023

It’s my favourite time of year when the BoF team and a global community of hand-selected c-suite leaders, designers, entrepreneurs, activists and more decamp to Oxfordshire in the English countryside for BoF VOICES, our annual gathering for big thinkers.

This year’s speakers are a bumper crop, including Diane von Furstenberg, Loewe and JW Anderson creative director Jonathan Anderson, Bottega Veneta creative director Matthieu Blazy, Chanel’s global CEO Leena Nair, Gap Inc CEO Richard Dickson and Fast Retailing president of global creative John C. Jay.

They join a stellar group of speakers from outside fashion including Emmy Award-winning actor Dan Levy, designers Thomas Heatherwick CBE and Kelly Wearstler, space scientist Hélène Huby, powerhouse filmmakers Waad Al-Kataeb and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, musicians Ali and Rita Ora, artist Andres Reisinger and Deepak Chopra, guru and advisor to some of the world’s most influential people.

For the full list of this year’s speakers and to sign up for the global livestream, please click here.

This Weekend on The BoF Podcast

https://businessoffashion.com/podcasts/media/the-bof-podcast-gabriella-karefa-johnson-on-leaving-vogue-and-building-a-better-fashion-industry/
The author has shared a Podcast.You will need to accept and consent to the use of cookies and similar technologies by our third-party partners (including: YouTube, Instagram or Twitter), in order to view embedded content in this article and others you may visit in future.

In the dynamic world of fashion magazines, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson has always stood out. In January 2021, she became the first Black woman to style a cover for American Vogue, featuring Paloma Elsesser, photographed by Annie Liebovitz. Later that year, she worked on the cover shoot featuring US Vice President Kamala Harris.

But recently, Gabriella decided to leave Vogue. “The truth of the matter is we grow and sometimes our containers don’t grow with us. And so I am excited to build a new container for all of these ideas and this energy,” Gabriella says on this week’s episode of The BoF Podcast.

Imran Amed, Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, The Business of Fashion

Plus, here are my other top picks from our analysis on fashion, luxury and beauty:

1. Saks Owner Raises $340 Million After Retailer Didn’t Pay Vendors For Months, Sources Say. Seven brands confirmed reports of chronic late payments that sparked some vendors to halt shipments to the US department store. Owner Hudson’s Bay Company said it monetised some real estate to help fund its retail operations.

Saks store exterior with a person walking past the shop front.

2. Can A Spanish Men’s Jewellery Start-Up Take Its Hype Machine Global? Twojeys has driven multi-million-euro sales of its accessibly priced jewels to Spanish Gen-Z shoppers by pushing engaging, voyeuristic content to its online community. Now the brand aims to take its concept international with the opening of a London store.

Twojeys aims to take its concept international with the opening of a London store.

3. Gen-Z Is Already Worried About Looking Old. Despite being known for their body positivity and authenticity, young people are buying into anti-aging products and procedures more than ever and earlier than ever. How will they grow old?

Gen-Z is already thinking about aging.

4. Don’t Believe What Consumers Say When It Comes to Sustainability. A growing body of consumer surveys suggests interest in sustainable consumption is reaching a tipping point. Those surveys are deeply flawed, writes Kenneth P. Pucker.

Shoppers carry purchases in Selfridges-branded shopping bags on Black Friday in central London on November 25, 2022.

5. The Rise of the Fast Fashion Converts. A small but growing online fashion community is practising a more critical form of consumption, marrying the quiet luxury trend with a desire for value and environmentally responsible products.

A woman in a white suit is hunched over in a chair with her face propped by her hand.

To receive this email in your inbox each Saturday, sign up to The Daily Digest newsletter for agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice that you won’t find anywhere else.

© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Workplace & Talent
Analysis and advice on the future of work, careers and management.

Discover the most exciting career opportunities now available on BoF Careers — including jobs from Tapestry, Tomorrow and Galvan.


Slogan T-shirts, themed sneakers and marketing emails that mention the heritage celebration are rarer this year, as consumers grow tired of cash-in collections and corporate diversity efforts face a backlash. Some brands say they’re steering resources away from flashy gestures and towards more meaningful work.



view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
CONNECT WITH US ON
BoF Professional Summit - New Frontiers: AI, Digital Culture and Virtual Worlds - March 22, 2024
© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
BoF Professional Summit - New Frontiers: AI, Digital Culture and Virtual Worlds - March 22, 2024