Lululemon's Chip Wilson to Step Down, Company Names New CEO
It turns out pissing off your target demographic isn't good for business after all. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson is learning that lesson the hard way. The controversy-embroiled company announced Tuesday that Wilson will step down as non-executive chairman, and that it had also named a new CEO, Laurent Potdevin, to replace the departing Christine Day. Day had announced her departure in June, but said she would stay on until a replacement was named. After the company's see-through pants scandal, Day was one of several high-profile appointments to leave the company.
The athletic wear company came under fire in March for selling see-through yoga pants. Months later, founder Wilson defended the pants against the horrors that women's bodies do to products meant to clothe them, saying, "Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it." His statements came after other allegations that the brand discriminated against plus-sized women. Naturally, women were not pleased. As Bustle reported:
The comment presents a disconnect with the brand’s manifesto, which among other things encourages all customers to “Choose a positive thought,” and to “Practice yoga so you can remain active…as you age.” These words of encouragement are both emblazoned on items of Lululemon clothing and workout gear, and printed on each of their reusable shopping bags. Lululemon has long been a proponent of healthy living and body image messages, yet Wilson’s comments seem emblematic of gulf between what they preach and what they practice.
Because it's not that these yoga pants are just poorly produced; it's that your body doesn't measure up to the yoga pants' standards. But the pants are still on sale at stores nationwide, called "second chance pants" even though Wilson apologized oh-so-much to the 50-plus percent of American women he offended.
I’m sad. I’m really sad. I’m sad for the repercussions of my actions. I’m sad for the people at Lululemon who I care so much about, that have really had to face the brunt of my actions. I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. I’m sorry to have put you all through this…
And now, he's gone ... ish. Women can place their hopes for yoga pants on the CEO, Potdevin, who most recently worked over at TOMS. And, at the very least, his past corporate background suggests he knows how to spread the feel-good messages his clients want to hear.