Lululemon sorry for ‘bat fried rice’ post
Activewear company Lululemon Athletica has apologised for an offensive shirt design that was inadvertently linked to the company despite having nothing to do with it.
The 'bat fried rice' shirt caused outraged on Chinese social media for "insulting" the country.
The design showed a small image of chopsticks with bat wings in red on the front and a winged Chinese takeaway box with the words "No Thank You" on the back.
The shirt was designed by artist Jess Sluder, who has no connection with Lululemon, but a link to his website was shared on the Instagram page of the company art director, Trevor Fleming.
Mr Fleming's Instagram page has been switched to private however his biography on the social media platform says, "I deeply apologise for putting the URL in my bio. I did not design the T-shirt, nor did I participate in any part of its creation".
Critics said Mr Sluder and Mr Fleming were trying to stir anti-Asian sentiment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before it was removed on Sunday, the post on Mr Sluder's Instagram account read, "Where did COVID-19 come from? Nothing is certain, but we know a bat was involved."
Lululemon was also forced to apologise after the social media storm.
The hashtag "Lululemon insults China" was viewed 204 million times on the country's Weibo platform by Tuesday afternoon, with some commentators demanding a boycott of the brand.
"The T-shirt is not a Lululemon product. We apologise 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. We acted immediately, and the person involved is no longer an employee of Lululemon."
Mr Sluder, who originally listed the shirt for sale for $95 (AUS), also said he was sorry for being insensitive and intended for the design "to create light during these dark times".
Bats are thought to have been the original source of the coronavirus which is believed to have jumped from animals to humans at a wetmarket in Wuhan, China.
It's not the first time Lululemon has faced criticism.
In 2013 the company's founder Chip Wilson apologised for suggesting some women's bodies "don't work" in their pants.
Other brands have also got into hot water for disrespecting China.
Last year Christian Dior apologised after a company presentation to university students excluded Taiwan from Chinese territory.
Originally published as Lululemon sorry for 'bat fried rice' post