Lululemon's move towards 'size inclusion' draws mixed reviews online

Elizabeth Di Filippo
·Editor
·6 min read

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Lululemon announced it would be expanding sizes from 0-20 for six of the brand's core pieces. Images via Lululemon.
Lululemon announced it would be expanding sizes from 0-20 for six of the brand's core pieces. Images via Lululemon.

In a bid towards size inclusion, Lululemon has announced that six of its core styles will now be offered in extended sizes, ranging from size 0-20. In a post to social media the brand called the decision “a start” on their journey towards inclusion and promised more extended size offerings would be launching “soon.”

“I really believe we have to be a brand that accepts all. When I heard people say that they couldn’t buy anything from Lululemon that was like being punched in the heart. And as a creative you don’t want that. You want our guests to leave feeling confident. Give them something that really functions for them in their life and really adds tat beauty to their outfitting,” senior vice president of women’s design Audrey Milligan said in a video shared to Instagram.

But the brand’s announcement has been met with mixed reactions, largely due to their controversial past with exclusionary sizes and body shaming.

In 2005, Lululemon’s former CEO Chip Wilson told the Calgary Herald it would be a “money loser” for the brand to make garments larger than a size 12. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement the brand only offered select pieces in a size 16, adding only two additional sizes over the span of 15 years.

In 2013, Wilson made international headlines after suggesting women’s bodies were to blame when the brand received complaints of pilling fabric.

“They don't work for some women's bodies...,” Wilson told Bloomberg TV. “It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

Although Milligan stated that Lululemon has been working towards size inclusion for the past 2-3 years, for many people, the long-overdue move towards inclusivity does little to erase more than two decades of feeling overlooked and undervalued as consumers.

ALSO SEE: The term 'inclusive sizing' is erasing people from the fashion world

“Excited to see how this goes, but I still feel so much hurt surrounding Lululemon, as I’ve spent way too many years of my life trying to squish my body into your clothing,” Canadian mental health and body activist Rafella Mancuso wrote to Lululemon. “It’s great that you’ll have 6 items that go up to 20, but this should have happened years ago. I’ll be cheering on this initiative, while also making sure to hold you accountable.”

Lululemon’s extended sizing is still considerably lacking in true size inclusion. Size 20 roughly translates to a 2X in plus size clothing, which still excludes many shoppers who range from size 22 to 34, or higher.

lululemon Align™ Pant II 25" in size 20. $98. Image via Lululemon.
lululemon Align™ Pant II 25" in size 20. $98. Image via Lululemon.

“Will you be expanding this more?” one social media user questioned. “Size 20 in a few styles really is bare minimum these days. And only in black in stores? What are you trying to tell people?”

The inquiry prompted a response from Lululemon, who cited a commitment to “fit and function” as the reason behind their limited extension at this time, reiterating the message that sizes 0-20 are only a “first step” for the brand.

ALSO SEE: What now? Making sense of body positivity in a fatphobic world

“We want to ensure every style and size meets our expectations so that we can best support our guests and their pursuits,” Lululemon replied. “While this work does take time, we are so excited for this first step. Every season moving forward, you'll see more styles and colours. So, stay tuned.”

Still, some consumers are weary that Lululemon’s size 20 will be true-to size, while others wrote that the brand’s limited expansion is yet another example fatphobia in fashion.

“As a size 26, it’s another ‘you’re too big for us’ moment,” wrote body positive blogger Alicia Gilby.

“I'm so unimpressed with the plus influencers I see here praising Lulu for doing the bare minimum,” wrote Canadian influencer Lisa Kelly, of Fearless Fatshionista.

Lululemon's extended size range includes six pieces available in sizes 0-20. Image via Lululemon.
Lululemon's extended size range includes six pieces available in sizes 0-20. Image via Lululemon.

In a separate post to Instagram Stories, Kelly wrote that given Lululemon’s success and prominence, their announcement barely moves the needle towards inclusion.

“[Milligan] says ‘We have to be a brand that accepts all’ but they’re only expanding their size range to a size 20. What about anyone over a size 20? Sorry, but a brand this size shouldn’t get a gold star for adding a couple of sizes to their roster, yet continuing to exclude an entire group of women.” Kelly wrote. “They added 3 sizes to the roster. Groundbreaking.”

Despite the criticism, Lululemon has received positive feedback from shoppers who were previously unable to invest in leggings and apparel - and from those who always could.

“Yes! Have been able to fit in some Lululemon gear over the years but it’s never been consistent for me. And have NEVER been able to even think about checking out the bras! This is such a great step,” one social media user wrote to Lululemon. “Can’t wait to look at the new sizes and see more styles in the future.”

ALSO SEE: 'I wasn't always practicing what I preach': Blogger shares her self care 'game changers' for rebuilding healthy body image

“To be honest, I cried happy tears while watching this,” another wrote. “It was a tough pill to swallow when you gain weight and feel you’re no longer ‘included’ in your fav brand workout clothes. All bodies can move and all bodies deserve to be included.”

“I’ve had a few friends that ask what I’m wearing and when I tell them, they tell me that you guys don’t carry their size I was so sad because I know what incredible quality your gear is!” wrote one woman. “Thank you @lululemon for making a change!”

Wunder Train High-Rise Tight 25". Available in size 20. $98. Image via Lululemon.
Wunder Train High-Rise Tight 25". Available in size 20. $98. Image via Lululemon.

Lululemon has not announced a timeline regarding further size expansion and plans to increase their expanded selection beyond six pieces.

Although progress of any kind is indeed a step in the right direction, the praise doled out to Lululemon from women who fit into straight sizes without acknowledging the brand’s limited expansion is a prime example of the tone deafness of thin privilege. Additional sizes are indeed a start — but nowhere near enough.

If you’re interested to shop Lululemon’s extended sizes, we’ve rounded up all the pieces available in size 20 below.

Wunder Train High-Rise Tight 25"

Wunder Train High-Rise Tight 25". Image via Lululemon.
Wunder Train High-Rise Tight 25". Image via Lululemon.

Available in five colours.

SHOP IT: Lululemon, $98

Fast and Free Tight II 25" Non-Reflective Nulux

Fast and Free Tight II 25" Non-Reflective Nulux. Model wearing size 16. Image via Lululemon.
Fast and Free Tight II 25" Non-Reflective Nulux. Model wearing size 16. Image via Lululemon.

Available in two colours.

SHOP IT: $128

Lululemon Align Pant II 25"

Lululemon Align Legging. Image via Lululemon.
Lululemon Align Legging. Image via Lululemon.

Available in six colours.

SHOP IT: $98

Ready to Rulu Jogger

Ready to Rulu Jogger 29" in Size 20. $108. Image via Lululemon.
Ready to Rulu Jogger 29" in Size 20. $108. Image via Lululemon.

Available in three colours.

SHOP IT: $108

Define Jacket

Define Jacket in Size 20. $118. Image via Lululemon.
Define Jacket in Size 20. $118. Image via Lululemon.

Available in six colours.

SHOP IT: $118

Long Distance Short Sleeve

Long Distance Short Sleeve in Size 20, $69. Image via Lululemon.
Long Distance Short Sleeve in Size 20, $69. Image via Lululemon.

Available in two colours.

SHOP IT: $69

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