Well that took long enough. Yogawear megabrand Lululemon finally realized that co-founder Chip Wilson, leading critic of “some women’s bodies“, was too big a liability to continue in the chairman role.
This morning the company announced that Wilson would be stepping down and that former CEO Christine Day, who announced her intentions to resign this summer, will be replaced by Laurent Potdevin. We didn’t want to say that this move was all about Wilson compounding the “revealing pants” scandal by inserting his foot firmly into his mouth, but screw it—we’ll just go ahead and say that.
The New York Times tells us that “sheerness complaints have continued, in addition to the new gripes about wear and tear”, but the company is hoping that the new chief will be able to nip that problem in its overexposed bud. Potdevin will (presumably) attempt to repair the damage before competing brands have a chance to cut in on Lulu’s share of the athletic wear market. His history as president of TOMS Shoes and Burton Snowboards tells us that he has a very solid grasp on corporate identity issues, and we find it interesting that he pushed TOMS to move into the eyewear market before Warby Parker snapped up the business of every socially conscious, visually challenged consumer around.
Wilson won’t really be leaving the company, though. The embattled co-founder will retain his seat on the board of directors, but he’ll be replaced in the chairman role by lead director Michael Casey.
Allow us to put on our editorial hats while we ask an obvious question: did the brand really make the right move in appeasing its millions of outraged female customers by placing two men in its most visible roles? Of course damage control isn’t as simple as finding a woman to serve as the public face of a company, but it probably would have been a good idea.
Also: we completely missed Wilson’s formal statement, which Bloomberg accurately describes as “a sort-of video apology”. Here it is for your sort-of viewing pleasure:
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