Chip Wilson, founder and chairman of the upscale yoga and exercise clothing company Lululemon Athletica, is stepping down from his post as the brand’s Chairman. This move follows negativity resulting from Wilson’s recent controversial interview with Bloomberg TV. Wilson addressed recent complaints of pilling and sheerness in Lululemon yoga pants and many felt that he seemingly blamed customers’ weight for the problems. Wilson stated that “frankly some women’s bodies just don’t work for [Lululemon pants]…It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure’s there over a period of time.”
Wilson faced serious backlash after some customers were offended by his remarks. Wilson then posted a 52-second public apology video on Youtube but it was criticized when many viewers believed it did not address enough the concerns of the women who were offended. Wilson did seem to apologize to Lululemon’s employees for the disapproval his comments received but he did not retract his original statements.
This past spring, the retailer pulled its popular yoga pants from store shelves, blaming problems on production issues and style changes. New pants have since hit stores, but complaints of sheerness and wear and tear have continued. Wilson and Lululemon co-founder Shannon Wilson visited Bloomberg TV to discuss these issues.
Michael Casey, lead director of the brand’s board, will replace Wilson, the company said Tuesday. Potdevin, previously CEO of Burton Snowboards who most recently served as president of Toms Shoes, will replace Christine Day as Lululemon’s chief executive. Lululemon invites customers to get to know the new CEO in a series of Youtube videos. In “Meet Laurent,” the new CEO states that “Lululemon is an exceptional brand building outstanding technical and beautiful product” and that “the team at Lululemon has done an outstanding job building a foundation with great momentum.”
Wilson will retain a seat on the Lululemon board.
What do I think, personally? I don’t think the comments he made in the Bloomberg interview were all that awful. I’m sure stretch pants wear down if there is frequent thigh rubbing. I don’t necessarily think he is anti-heavier people or was trying to be vicious. BUT, Lululemon clothes cost a ridiculous amount, so much that I don’t own one piece of their workout gear and I work out five days a week. But if I was a person who did spend the money to buy work out clothes, I would expect that they should last a long, long, long time. Even my Old Navy and Champion from Target yoga pieces last a long time without pilling or tearing. And I don’t buy any pants that are see through. I kind of blame the customers for buying the brand’s pants without first trying them on to see if they were see through or not.
As far as the apology goes, Wilson definitely should have spoken more about the comments directly and the nature of the issue. He says he’s sorry for the “repercussions of my actions” and sad for “the people are Lululemon.” But he doesn’t say that he did not mean any offense or address the people he actually offended. I was surprised at this and can understand completely why many felt his apology was insincere and incomplete.
Either way, the new French CEO is kinda sexy, no? He sounds like a brilliant businessman and will most likely do great things for the company. Now, if Lululemon could just get their prices down a bit, maybe I would start purchasing some items from them.