Lululemon is apologizing after its art director shared a "bat fried rice" t-shirt design on social media that has been slammed online as "racist" and "anti-Asian" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, Trevor Fleming, the senior global art director of Lululemon, shared a link on Instagram to the t-shirt design first shared by California artist Jess Sluder. (Fleming's Instagram account has since been deleted.)
The design featured a Chinese take-out box decorated with bat wings and the words "no thank you" on the back. The shirt, titled "Bat Fried Rice," was listed for purchase at $60 before it was taken down.
“At lululemon, our culture and values are core to who we are, and we take matters like this extremely seriously," Lululemon spokesperson Erin Hankinson said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We apologize that an employee was affiliated with promoting an offensive t-shirt… The image and the post were inappropriate and inexcusable and we do not tolerate this behaviour."
The athletic wear retailer said it has since cut ties with Fleming, adding that the controversial t-shirt "is not a lululemon product."
"We acted immediately, and the person involved is no longer an employee of lululemon," the statement added.
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Lululemon issued the apology following mounting pressure from many customers, who threatened to boycott the brand entirely if any disciplinary action wasn't taken.
"I can’t believe that you support Racism. CANCELLED," Instagram user yuuki.9h commented on the company's latest post. User rangell added, "Will not be purchasing or wearing anything from this brand unless proper action is taken and racism is addressed. This is unacceptable. Make change. Do better."
Kamauri Yeh tweeted, "There have been 100+ daily attacks on Asian Americans since the start of #COVID19. To see people adding to the hurt & racism hurts my heart."
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"It both saddens and enrages me to see demeaning and disgraceful racial bigotry perpetuated in the name of art," tweeted @kenzientious.
In response to a customer, Lululemon's Instagram account wrote, "We take matters such as this extremely seriously and have no tolerance for cultural insensitivity and discrimination."