Chip Wilson, also known as the clothing magnate who blamed his female customers' thighs for his company's faulty workout pants is stepping down as Chairman of Lululemon. The yoga clothing manufacturer and life medicine to many Connecticut mothers, has announced that its chairman and founder is resigning as of early next year.
Wilson's departure was tucked in the company's release about its new CEO— a different position than the one Wilson holds. (Laurent Potdevin will be the company's take the CEO job, assuming the role vacated by Christine Day who stepped down in the wake of the company's too-sheer yoga pants controversy).
In addition, Chip Wilson, lululemon's founder and the Chairman of its Board of Directors, informed the Board of Directors that he is resigning from the position of non-executive Chairman. Mr. Wilson will step down from the role effective prior to the company's annual meeting in June 2014.
Wilson's departure comes almost one month to the day after he blamed his customers' thighs for the company's pilling pants. "Quite frankly, some women's bodies just actually don't work," Wilson told Bloomberg TV. "It's about the rubbing through the thighs," he added. That gaffe came after a relative quiet period for the company, which also took heat for selling yoga pants that were essentially see-through.
But the gaffe also spurred people to examine if Wilson has said dumb or dumber stuff before and ... he did. Critics unearthed a 2009 blog post where Wilson explained his theory on why women get breast cancer: Liberated women brought it upon themselves with their birth control pill and cigarettes. He wrote:
Breast cancer also came into prominence in the 1990's. 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."
If Wilson was the only thing holding you back from purchasing the company's life-affirming $98 yoga pants, then his departure is good news. It also shows that some companies sometimes have the common sense to get rid of people who alienate customers. But, still there are companies who don't adhere to this basic (perhaps the most basic) tenet of business.
Take Abercrombie for example. Not unlike Lululemon's Wilson, Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries has a history of not catering to larger customers and approaching his business the way a high school junior who wants to be the most popular boy in school would. The 69-year-old's contract was renewed this week despite Abercrombie's flailing sales numbers, even among the young and beautiful customers he craves.