Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Steps Down From Board

The founder of the overpriced stretch pants empire is moving on.

Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Steps Down From Board
[Top photo: Flickr user daveynin]

Chip Wilson, who founded yoga wear brand Lululemon Athletica in 1998, announced today that he has stepped down from his position on the company’s board. The move comes a little more than a year after his resignation as Chairman, prompted by controversial comments he made about customers’ body types.


Since Lululemon’s founding, Wilson has made a fortune from his brand’s loyal following of self-proclaimed “Luluheads,” who spend upwards of $90 on stretch pants, and has taken on a variety of roles at the company besides chairman, including CEO and Chief Innovation officer. The business has struggled in recent years, and not just because of Wilson’s foot-in-mouth disease–in 2013, many customers complained the yoga pants were so sheer as to be see-through, and others complained that they were shoddily crafted, often pilling up and coming apart at the seams.

Flickr user Ted Eytan

Though he’s stopped working for Lululemon, Wilson hasn’t stopped making questionable comments: “I think that Lululemon was so successful because I was probably the only straight guy that was making women’s apparel, and I knew what a guy liked,” Wilson told the New York Times this week. “Girls ended up wearing it, and guys commented on it.”

As a send-off to Wilson, we’ve compiled some of his most memorably asinine remarks:

  • Wilson confessed he named his company Lululemon because he likes watching Japanese people mispronounce the letter L: “It’s funny to watch them try and say it,” he told Canada’s National Post Business Magazine.
  • In a 2009 blog post, he attributed Lululemon’s founding to the birth of the pill, breast cancer, and high divorce rates: “Breast cancer also came into prominence in the 1990s. 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…. Ultimately, Lululemon was formed because female education levels, breast cancer, yoga/athletics and the desire to dress feminine came together all at one time.”
  • When Bloomberg asked why customers were complaining about the pants pilling, he said, “Some women’s bodies don’t work for the pants. It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time.”

Wilson plans to focus on helping his wife and sons develop their streetwear brand, Kit & Ace, which sells machine-washable cashmere clothing.

[via the New York Times]

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.