In the BoF Lululemon investigation


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

This week, after months of investigation and rigorous editorial and legal review, this story – At Lululemon, “Being Black Is “Off-Brand”” was finally published. It quickly became one of the most read BoF stories of 2023, sparking more than 1,000 comments on Instagram and LinkedIn, making it worth a read in its own right.

The gist of the story was this: In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, Lululemon, like many companies, took steps to improve internal diversity and inclusion and create a more level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. But in interviews conducted last year, 14 current and former employees told The Business of Fashion that things at Lululemon had only gotten worse.

They claim that the company has a corporate culture that remains unwelcoming toward black people; where managers routinely use stereotypes to define minority employees; and where these employees face barriers to career advancement that do not appear to apply to white colleagues. Employees who spoke out said they had been marginalized or even fired.

A BoF reader,, wrote on Instagram: “Every black person who has ever worked at Lululemon has a story like this. Kudos to the people brave enough to put it 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 already. It is a cautionary tale for all creative and business leaders, even if it is well-intentioned and aimed at creating more inclusive workplaces.

Don’t miss BoF VOICES 2023 next week

It’s my favorite time of year when the BoF team and a global community of hand-picked leaders, designers, entrepreneurs, activists and more travel to the Oxfordshire countryside in England to attend BoF VOICES, our annual gathering of great 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 CEO Leena Nair, Gap Inc CEO Richard Dickson, and John C. President of Global Creative at Fast Retailing. Jay.

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

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

This weekend on the BoF podcast

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

But recently, Gabriella decided to leave Vogue. “The truth is that we grow and sometimes our containers don’t grow with us. And that’s why I’m looking forward to building a new container for all these ideas and this energy,” says Gabriella on this week’s episode of the BoF podcast.

Imran Amed, founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion

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

1. Saks owner raises $340 million after retailer fails to pay suppliers for months, sources say. Seven brands confirmed reports of chronic late payments, prompting some suppliers to halt deliveries to the US department store. Owner Hudson’s Bay Company said it has monetized some properties to help finance its retail business.

2. Can a Spanish men’s jewelry start-up spread its hype machine worldwide? Twojeys has increased sales of its affordable jewels to Spanish Gen Z shoppers by millions of euros by sharing engaging, voyeuristic content in its online community. Now the brand wants to expand its concept internationally by opening a London store.

3. Generation Z is already worried about looking old. Although young people are known for their body positivity and authenticity, they are buying anti-aging products and treatments more than ever and sooner than ever before. How do they grow old?

4. Don’t believe what consumers say about sustainability. A growing number of consumer surveys suggest that interest in sustainable consumption is reaching a tipping point. These polls are deeply flawed, writes Kenneth P. Pucker.

5. The rise of the fast fashion convert. A small but growing online fashion community is practicing a more critical form of consumption, combining the quiet luxury trend with the desire for value and eco-friendly products.

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