Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, who is stepping down from the yoga clothier's board, is no stranger to eyebrow-raising statements.
He said today he is resigning from the board of the firm he founded in 1998 to help his wife, former lead designer at Lululemon, and son with their clothing company, which uses luxury "technical cashmere" material. The company, based in Vancouver, Canada, has more than 250 stores.
"By stepping away from lululemon I will now have more opportunity to work with my wife and son as they grow their new business, Kit & Ace," Wilson said in a statement. "I am so excited for Kit & Ace because it is where street clothing is going. Shannon and JJ have caught the next wave."
In January 2012, Wilson left his position as Chief Innovation and Branding Officer at Lululemon and began a sabbatical in Australia where he was away from day-to-day management. In 2013, he was asked by Lululemon's board to return to help handle a crisis that occurred while he was away and position the company towards longer-term corporate objectives.
“Chip took a small yoga company from Vancouver, and inspired a team of people to dream big," Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin said in a statement. "This vision and entrepreneurial spirit is woven through all that we do at lululemon, and we are entirely focused on the journey that lies ahead. With strong leaders in place, and a passionate dedicated team, we remain committed to inspiring our guests in their sweaty pursuits and bringing the best of lululemon to communities around the globe."
Lululemon Athletica’s stock closed down about 1 percent today to $65.52 a share. Over the past year, its stock increased more than 40 percent. In December, the company reported $419.4 million in revenue in its third quarter, up about 10 percent from a year ago, and $60.5 million in net income, down 8 percent from a year ago.
In an interview on Nov. 5, 2013, Wilson attributed the “sheerness” of Lululemon’s yoga pants to women buying too-small pants or their thighs rubbing together.
“Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work [for the yoga pants],” Chip Wilson said on Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” program. “It’s more really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”
2. Awkward Apology
After the comments about sheerness, in a 50-second apology video posted on YouTube and Lululemon’s Facebook page, Wilson apologized, not to the customers he may have offended, but to his own employees.
“I’m sad for the people at Lululemon who I care so much about that have really had to face the brunt of my actions,” Wilson said. “I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. I’m sorry to have put you all through this.”
3. Japanese Pronunciation
When Wilson was CEO, he made comments in 2005 saying that it was funny that Japanese people couldn't pronounce the "L" in Lululemon.
"It's funny to watch them try and say it," he told Canada's National Post Business Magazine when asked about the Japanese pronunciation of his company's name.
Wilson denies saying it, according to the New York Times.
4. Rise of Divorce
In a blog post in 2009 titled "How Lululemon came into being," Wilson wrote, "The pill immediately transformed the sex lives of anyone under the age of 40, particularly teenagers."
"Women's lives changed immediately. Men's lives didn't change however and they continued to search for a stay-at-home wife like their mothers. Men did not know how to relate to the new female. Thus came the era of divorces," Wilson wrote.
5. Breast Cancer and the Pill
"Breast cancer also came into prominence in the 1990’s. I suggest this was due to the number of cigarette-smoking Power Women who were on the pill (initial concentrations of hormones in the pill were very high) and taking on the stress previously left to men in the working world," Wilson wrote.
"Ultimately, Lululemon was formed because female education levels, breast cancer, yoga/athletics and the desire to dress feminine came together all at one time," he wrote. "Lululemon saw the opportunity to make the best technologically advanced components for the Super Girl market."