Athletics brand Lululemon has been accused of pushing employees to launch an “All Lives Matter” campaign, shortly after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
According to a report from Business Insider, a director at the company, who has not been named, told employees the company would not be using the “Black Lives Matter” slogan and asked them to use “approved copy” instead, which employees claim contained the phrase “all lives matter”.
Following the murder of George Floyd by police office Derek Chauvin in South Minneapolis on 25 May 2020, Black Lives Matter protests erupted worldwide and numerous companies released statements about systemic racism and promising to change their working and hiring practices, in support of the movement.
The phrase “all lives matter” is widely regarded as a criticism of Black Lives Matter, a movement that aims to raise awareness of the prejudices, racism and violence inflicted on Black people.
“We are not writing Black Lives Matter. That’s not where we’re at,” the director allegedly told staff.
Lululemon employees told Business Insider they “pushed back” against the campaign, but were told to proceed, eventually creating two mock-up campaigns, one with the slogan All Lives Matter, and the other with Black Lives Matter.
One staff member, who was not named, said they felt “triggered and traumatised” by the incident, describing it as “one of the most disgusting moments” of their employment at the company.
“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,” they said.
The director has since left the company after apologising to 200 staff members during a conference call.
It is not the first time Lululemon has been accused of being racially insensitive. In April 2020, the brand issued an apology after a senior global art director, Trevor Fleming, promoted the sale of a T-shirt named “bat fried rice”.
Taking to his Instagram, Fleming shared a link to a long-sleeved T-shirt with a pair of chopsticks with batwings on its front, and a Chinese takeout box with batwings on the back.
Lululemon issued a statement saying the garment was not one of its designs, and that it no longer employs Fleming. Fleming told Reuters 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 Independent has contacted Lululemon for comment.
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