Chip Wilson is stepping down as chairman of Lululemon after months of negative publicity that he and the company created.
Hi, folks, Stuart Goldman here, your roving women's fitness fashion reporter with some late-breaking news about women's fitness fashion.
It appears the founder of Lululemon has made his last questionable comment about the company and its line of yoga pants. On Tuesday, Lululemon announced that Chip Wilson, who made some disparaging remarks about women's bodies during an interview with Bloomberg last month, is stepping down as chairman. Wilson made the remarks—"[The pants] don't work for some women's bodies...it's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how much they use it."—during a segment called "Street Smart," a title that really doesn't apply to him.
In recent weeks, Lululemon customers continued to complain that the brand's pants were still too sheer, months after the company was blamed for stocking yoga pants that customers deemed were too see-through. After an exhaustive Google search by this intrepid reporter, I'll have to concur that the pants were in fact see-through.
Lululemon recently restocked its shelves with what it called its "Second Chance Pant" for $92. If you think $92 is outrageous for a pair of yoga pants (you'd be right, by the way), you should know that a new London-based company called Sweaty Betty charges 20 percent to 25 percent more for its yoga pants than Lululemon. Add that to the fact that according to one report, the workout clothes industry produced $31.6 billion in sales during a 12-month period that ended in August, a 7 percent increase from the same period a year ago. Now, I'm no economics reporter—I'm just a women's fitness fashion reporter, mind you—but I get the sense that $31.6 billion is a lot of cents.
Days after the Bloomberg video created a firestorm, Wilson apologized—sort of—in a YouTube video, but the damage was done. In its announcement on Tuesday, Lululemon appointed Laurent Potdevin as its new CEO. The former head of Toms Shoes will replace Christine Day, who announced her desire to leave the company in June, not long after the company's first sheer madness occurred in March.
The stock of Lululemon Athletica Inc. is reportedly down about 8 percent this year. Shareholders no doubt hope that under Potdevin's guidance, Lululemon's yoga pants will have the same durability and longevity as Toms shoes.