Lululemon has issued an apology after a former art director with the company promoted a racially offensive T-shirt which linked coronavirus to eating “bat fried rice.”
The shirt — called the “Bat Friend Rice Tee– was designed by California artist Jess Sluder. It depicts an image of a traditional Chinese take-out box and chopsticks with bat wings and the words “No Thank You” on the sleeves.
A link for the product was then shared on the Instagram page of Trevor Fleming, who worked as an art director for Lululemon at the time.
Sluder promoted the shirt as being part of his line of “limited edition #quarantees.”
“Where did COVID-19 come from? Nothing is certain, but we know a bat was involved,” wrote Sluder on Instagram.
Images of the t-shirt were shared across social media with many calling on Lululemon to take action against their employee for promoting the product.
More #COVID19 racism by linking bats (incorrect virus source; it’s undetermined) with the iconic Chinese American takeout container & fried rice. This is NOT #humornothate. Your laughs and “art” put people’s lives & safety at risk.
— Kevin Huang｜黃儀軒 😷 (@yskevinhuang) April 19, 2020
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. I hope someone picks up this story and these individuals take responsibility. I am more proud than ever to be part of the AA community. ✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/nWy9WJeMVE
— Kamauri Yeh (@yehwho) April 19, 2020
This is one of the designers response. Blasphemy. So bored that it’s bringing out your racism. I’m in disbelief pic.twitter.com/FcOSHOsRcB
— Germ (@VZmaestro) April 19, 2020
In a statement, Lululemon said it “takes matters like this extremely seriously.”
“The t-shirt design is not a lululemon product. We apologize that an employee was affiliated with promoting an offensive t-shirt, and we take this very seriously,” the company said.
“The image and the post were inappropriate and inexcusable and we do not tolerate this behaviour. We acted immediately, and the person involved is no longer an employee of lululemon.”
The t-shirt has since been removed from Sluder’s website.