Chip Wilson, Lululemon Chairman, Resigns After Firestorm Over Weight Comments
Chip Wilson, founder and chairman of the upscale yoga and exercise clothing company Lululemon Athletica, announced Tuesday he's stepping down from his post as the brand's chairman. The move follows public outcry from Wilson's recent controversial interview with Bloomberg TV. In addressing recent complaints of pilling and sheerness in Lululemon yoga pants that led to a recall of some pants, Wilson seemingly blamed customers' weight for the problems. "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."
The company faced a serious backlash from customers who were offended by his remarks. Wilson then posted a 52-second public apology video on YouTube, but it was criticized as insincere and incomplete. Wilson apologized to Lululemon's employees for his comments, but he didn't retract his original statements.
In response to the apology video, a Change.org online petition was launched that called for a more sincere apology and urged Lululemon to make clothes in larger sizes. The petition is addressed to Laurent Potdevin, who was announced as the company's new CEO on Tuesday. "Your recent comments regarding women's bodies are leading many of us to ask: does Lululemon want women to be comfortable in their clothing, or uncomfortable in our own bodies?"
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.
In an effort to calm the tempest, Lululemon has invited customers to get to know the new CEO in a series of YouTube videos. In "Meet Laurent," the new CEO declares 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.