How Lululemon Got Its Name — One of Many Controversies

“So I thought, the next time I come up with a company’s name, I’m going to put three 'L's in it and see if I can get three times as much."

Melissa Willets - Author

Apr. 12 2024, Published 10:59 a.m. ET

A Lululemon storefront
Source: Getty Images

It's no secret that there's absolutely no love lost between Lululemon's controversial founder and former CEO, Chip Wilson, and the current leaders of the mega-successful clothing brand.

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In fact, the company has distanced itself from Chip and his remarks over topics ranging from women's bodies and who should wear Lululemon's clothes, to why the store is named Lululemon in the first place.

Here's what to know about how the iconic company got its name — straight from Chip.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson speaks during WE Day at KeyArena on April 21, 2017, in Seattle
Source: Getty Images
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So, why is Lululemon called Lululemon anyway?

On his TikTok, Chip answered the question of why Lululemon is called Lululemon. First, he addressed the many "lies" out there about how he came up with the name.

Then, Chip explained how he used to own a skateboard brand called Homeless and it sold well in Japan.

“They must like Homeless because it has the letter ‘L’ in it, and the 'L' doesn’t belong in the Japanese language," Chip said in a follow-up video. “So I thought, the next time I come up with a company’s name, I’m going to put three 'L's in it and see if I can get three times as much."

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Per Business Insider, at one point Chip later commented about the name of his company and Japanese people, “It’s funny to watch them try and say it.”

Obviously, this is highly offensive and hasn't sat well with customers or with the current leadership. Chip was ousted from his post in 2013.

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Chip Wilson has said many controversial things about Lululemon and its intended customer.

Since stepping down as CEO and leaving the board in 2015, Chip has said plenty of things that enrage customers. Per USA Today, he criticized the direction of the company for “trying to become like the Gap, everything to everybody."

“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,” he told Forbes.

Of course, Chip is most well-known for saying the company's beloved leggings “don’t work for some women’s bodies," and blasting plus-sizes as “a money loser, for sure. I understand their plight, but it's tough."

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Lululemon's controversies haven't stopped the company from earning billions.

Despite all the bad press that Lululemon has gotten over the years, as of March 2024, the company was selling upwards of $3.2 billion worth of merchandise, per CNBC.

Add to that how teens seem to be increasingly obsessed with the brand, and it doesn't seem like the athleisure leader is going anywhere soon.

Still, some consumers have called for a boycott of the brand over issues such as how Lululemon got its name, and more current thinking, such as when CEO Calvin McDonald fired two employees for intervening in a robbery going on in a Georgia store.

In a statement, the company said it has an "absolute zero-tolerance policy" for "engaging with guests in a way that could put themselves, or others in harm's way" by way of justifying the firing.

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