Athletic clothing brand Lululemon is apologizing after an employee promoted a "bat fried rice" T-shirt design that sparked outrage and accusations of racism against Asian-Americans.
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Global art director Trevor Fleming reportedly shared an image of the shirt and joked about the origin of the coronavirus pandemic on his Instagram page Sunday. The shirt was being sold by California artist Jess Sluder under the name “bat fried rice,” which was marketed on her Instagram page for $60, according to the New York Post.
"Where did COVID-19 come from?" Sluder wrote in a deleted post. "Nothing is certain, but we know a bat was involved."
Lululemon responded to a customer on Instagram saying they "acted immediately, and the person involved is no longer an employee."
The apparel brand also stressed that it did not make the shirt.
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"We take 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 image and the post were inappropriate and inexcusable and we do not tolerate this behavior. We acted immediately, and the person involved is no longer an employee of Lululemon," a company spokesperson for Lululemon said in a statement.
The Instagram post outraged some on social media.
"There have been 100+ daily attacks on Asian Americans since the start of #COVID19," one user posted to Twitter, with photos of the T-shirt. "To see people adding to the hurt & racism hurts my heart."
Fleming and Sluder did not immediately return a request for comment.
Reports of racially-fuelled attacks on Asian-Americans have risen since COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China. Initial studies have said that the deadly disease could have come from bats.