Lululemon founder Chip Wilson may no longer be associated with the brand, but he still shows a knack for making headlines with his views on life. Wilson is once again making waves through advanced quotes from his upcoming ebook titled “Little Black Stretchy Pants,” which reveals plenty of tea about his time at the company he founded with a Vancouver studio/store in 1998. Wilson was the company CEO until 2005 and was the chairman of the board of directors until December 2013.
According to excerpts provided by Business Insider, Wilson mainly blamed CEO Christine Day for the company’s sheer-pants kerfuffle in 2013 that lead to a recall of 17 percent of its pants inventory, a screw up that cost the company about $60 million.
“A lifetime of research into how to make best-in-the-world non-transparent black stretch pants all came undone in an instant. The sheerness issue was our fault, plain and simple. I was mortified for Lululemon,” said Wilson.
Day was Lululemon’s CEO from 2008-2013 and Wilson makes clear he was never entirely happy with her leadership. He decided to meet with her in April 2013 to clear the air and he the book he writes that he told her, “Christine, you put a lot of good things in place for Lululemon, but you never had a vision for the company. In my mind, you’re a world-class chief operations officer. But you’re a terrible CEO.”
Day responded with tears, about which Wilson wrote, “She just cried and turned away, a reaction I thought was unprofessional and likely fake.” The next day, the turned in her resignation to the board.
Wilson created another set of issues in 2013 when he went on Bloomberg TV and seemed to imply that Lululemon isn’t made for all body types. “Frankly some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it,” said Wilson in the exchange that was widely covered by the media.
In the book Wilson said, he was “ruined” by the statement, which he says was misinterpreted. “From the Bloomberg moment on, nothing would be the same,” he writes. “My comments were the antithesis of everything I stood for, and of everything the women of Lululemon and I had built. The ramifications for the company, for my family, and for everyone involved were catastrophic. I made a mistake, and I was going to pay heavily for it.”
In the book he also breaks the Lululemon customer down into three categories, Power Women, Super Girls and Balance Girls with definitions as follows:
Power Women are divorcées who came up through the sexual revolution and put in 12-hour work days, kept a clean and orderly home, and did their best to give their children all the love they’d had pre-divorce. These women also gave up their social lives and sleep,” he writes.
Wilson describes the Super Girl as Lululemon’s target customer. He writes, “I defined a Super Girl to be 32-years old and born on the 28th of September. I called her Ocean. Each year, since 1998, Ocean never got a day older or a day younger. Every Ocean in the world would be our sponsored athlete, just like Nike chooses a few specific men to sponsor.”
The third customer is the Balance Girl that are the same age as the Super Girl but with problematic attributes. Wilson writes, “The Balance Girls are type-A Wall Street personalities. They had been working 14-hour days in finance, were not dating, and could see no prospects for marriage or children. Utopia for these women was to be zenned out, but this was not Lululemon. We soon had to rid ourselves of these Balance Girls.”
Wilson also comments freely on topics outside of Lululemon, including the impact of birth control pills, a subject he has commented on in prior interviews. Wilson write, “Women suddenly had significant control over conception. If they did want children they could decide when, and how many. There was a newfound sense of independence in this ability to delay children. There was also the opportunity to pursue careers that had, to date, been dominated by men. Meanwhile, men’s lives did not change with the arrival of the pill, and they had no idea how to relate to this newly independent women. Thus, came the era of divorce, with divorce rates peaking in the late seventies and early eighties.”
He goes on to blame the pill in part for increased breast cancer rates. High hormone dosages in birth control pills, according to Wilson, “combined with the Power Women’s lack of sleep, work-related stress, poor eating habits, and three-martini lunches worked together to cause the terrible using in breast cancer rates in the nineties. Too many Power Women had looked to their fathers to define business success, emulating both their drive and toxic lifestyles. Regretfully, for many Power Women, this would ultimately cost them their health and, in some cases their lives.”
For information on purchasing the book, visit chipwilson.com.