Chip Wilson, Lululemon’s Controversial Founder, Steps Down As Chairman

The troubled company has also named a new CEO.

Chip Wilson, Lululemon’s Controversial Founder, Steps Down As Chairman
Chip Wilson at a memorial charity run in 2009.

Dennis “Chip” Wilson, the loose-tongued founder of controversial sportswear company Lululemon, will step down as chair but retain a position on the board of the company.


Over the past year or so, Lululemon has become better known for embarrassing leadership missteps than for its trendy workout clothes. After being forced to recall a huge batch of yoga pants after customers found them to be see-through, the company embarked on a strangely public search for a new CEO that included references to tequila shots.

Wilson has also been the subject of scrutiny for his recent faux pas, which include:

  • Blaming the see-through pants problem on the wearers’ bodies. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.” Wilson also was quoted as saying that “plus-size people are sensitive.”
  • Suggesting Chinese people prefer inhumane working conditions: “If you were to work them eight-hour days, they will be mad at you. … they want to have a pile of money to go home with and start a business.”
  • Blaming birth control for divorce rates and breast cancer: “I suggest this was due to the number of cigarette-smoking power women who were on the pill (initial concentrations of hormones in the pill were very high) and taking on the stress previously left to men in the working world.”

Laurent Potdevin, previously the president of Toms Shoes, will now take over as CEO. The company’s previous CEO, Christine Day, resigned in June.

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.