Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon and the man who famously said that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for the company’s yoga pants, is stepping down from Lululemon’s board of directors.
Wilson made a fortune convincing women that nirvana was just a $100 pair of stretch pants away, but he lost his sure footing over the past two years. In March 2013, Lululemon recalled 17 percent of its black yoga pants—which don’t come in a size larger than 12—because its proprietary Luon fabric was too sheer. Some women who tried to return the pants at Lululemon stores said they were told to put them on and bend over so staff members could determine just how see-through they were.
That public relations disaster led to an even worse one in November 2013 when Wilson, then the company’s chairman, attempted to explain the reasons for the apparel mishap on Bloomberg TV. “The thing is that women will wear seat belts that don’t work or they’ll wear a purse that doesn’t work or, quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it,” he told Bloomberg’s Trish Regan. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there.”
About a month after that disastrous interview, Lululemon’s stock plunged spectacularly after cutting its earnings and sales outlook. Shares continued to fall until June of 2014; over the past year, Lululemon’s stock price had lost more than 50 percent of its value and Wilson had resigned as chairman.
Over the past six months, Lululemon has slowly recovered from that protracted stock market hit. In August, Lululemon settled a feud with Wilson over company strategy, and since then shares have added about 70 percent. Wilson said in a statement that he is stepping down to help his wife and son grow their business, Kit and Ace, a luxury apparel maker for men and (hopefully all) women.