Lululemon Founder Resigns Amid Backlash Over 'Women's Body Type' Remarks
Men should know better than to make disparaging comments about women’s bodies. That’s just not ever ok. And if you are the male founder of a yoga apparel company, then you had really better know better.
Chip Wilson didn’t. And so now he’s out.
Vancouver-based Lululemon today announced that Chip Wilson, its founder and chairman of the Board of Directors, will resign as non-executive chairman. Wilson will officially leave the post in June of next year.
Lululemon has been scorned widely after Wilson appeared on Bloomberg TV (below) and said that the reason some customers claimed their Lululemon pants were sheer is because “some women's bodies just don't actually work” for the clothing. Wilson also alluded to the fact that if women’s thighs rub up against each other, that kind of friction might affect the pants' durability.
The company said in March that it would have to pull some of its black Luon pants and crops because the clothing did not meet its “technical specifications,” a move which the company warned would have “significant impact” on its financials.
Also today, Lululemon announced that it has tapped a new chief executive officer. Laurent Potdevin, the former president of TOMS Shoes, will take over in January, the Canadian apparel company says. TOMS is a leader in the social entrepreneurship space, pioneering the “buy one-give one” model where for each pair of shoes purchased, the company then donates a pair to a child in need.
Potdevin replaces Christine Day who, after serving as the company’s CEO since 2008, announced her resignation in June.
"We believe lululemon will benefit from Laurent's leadership experience and proven track record of success in building global brands,” said Michael Casey, lead director of the Lululemon board of directors and member of the CEO search committee, in a statement. “Additionally, his deep understanding of the importance of top-quality technical design, retail marketing strategies, and the power of building a strong brand provides him with the tools we believe are necessary to lead our next exciting phase of growth.”
Given the company's recent missteps, it seems that Potdevin’s “deep understanding of the importance of top-quality technical design” is certainly at the top of Lululemon’s “desperately needed” list.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.