Chip Wilson

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Chip Wilson
Born Dennis J. Wilson
1956 (age 59–60)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Alma mater University of Calgary (B.A.)
Occupation Founder of Lululemon Athletica
Spouse(s) Shannon Wilson

Dennis J. "Chip" Wilson (born 1956) is a Canadian businessman and philanthropist who has founded several retail apparel companies, most notably yoga-inspired athletic apparel company Lululemon Athletica Inc. (TSX: LLL, NASDAQ: LULU), commonly referred to as Lululemon.[1]

Business career[edit]

In 1979 Wilson founded his first retail apparel company, Westbeach Snowboard Ltd., which sold apparel targeted at the surf, skate, and snowboard markets. Wilson went on to sell Westbeach in 1997 and founded Lululemon Athletica Inc. in 1998.[2]

Wilson served as CEO of lululemon until 2005, when he sold a 48% minority stake in lululemon to private equity firms Advent International [3] and Highland Capital Partners.[4] In 2007 an IPO was offered by Lululemon Athletica Inc. on Canadian and US exchanges.[5] In January 2012, Wilson retired from his executive post as chief innovation and branding officer, but remained chairman of the board of directors.[4] In December 2013, Wilson stepped down from his role as non-executive chairman.[6]

On June 11, 2014, Wilson raised his concerns that the lululemon athletica Board was not aligned with the core values of product and innovation on which lululemon was founded, and on which the company thrived.[7] Six months after the board reconstitution the company’s share price boosted from a June 2014 low of $36.26 to $65.33 — a change in market capitalization of over $4 billion.[8]

On August 7, 2014, lululemon athletica inc. and Wilson facilitated Advent's re-enengagement in lululemon by selling 13.85% ownership in the company to Advent for approximately $845 million.[9] The transaction received the full support of the lululemon Board of Directors and changes the board dynamic. Advent Managing Partner David M. Mussafer and Managing Director Steven J. Collins will be appointed to lululemon's Board of Directors, expanding the Board from 10 to 12 members. Mr. Mussafer will now share Chairman responsibilities with Michael Casey. Lululemon will also engage an independent expert to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the lululemon Board's committees, policies and procedures over the course of 90 days following the completion of Advent's stock purchase.[10][11]

In February 2015, Wilson stepped down from the lululemon athletica Board of Directors saying, “I have achieved the goals I set when I came back, and after careful thought, I believe that now is the right time to step away from the board. I leave behind a new and talented management team and new board construct.” [12]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson, born in 1956,[13] graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Calgary in 1980.[14] He has five sons, two from Wilson’s first marriage to Nancy,[15] and is married to Shannon Wilson, one of the original designers of lululemon and Co-founder of Kit and Ace along with his son JJ Wilson. They reside in Vancouver, B.C.

In 2004 Ernst & Young named Wilson as "Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year for Innovation and Marketing".[16] As of 2012 Forbes ranked Wilson as the 10th wealthiest Canadian and 401st in the world, with an estimated net worth as of March 2013 of $2.9 billion.[17]

In 2014, Wilson and his wife, Shannon Wilson, received honorary doctorates from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.[18]

In 2015, Wilson and his wife, Shannon Wilson, received honorary doctorates from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University.[19]



In 2007 Wilson, along with his wife Shannon Wilson, launched imagine1day, a charity dedicated to improving education conditions in Ethiopia. The organization’s goal is that all Ethiopians have access to quality education funded free of foreign aid by 2030.[20] As of December 2014, Imagine1Day had 227 partner schools with 27 of those built from the ground up by its team. Also, 615 school clubs have been created with half run by girls. 33,000 books, 77 science kits, & 100 sports sets have been provided to the students. Imagine1Day estimates that over 103k lives are transformed annually through their education & training.[21]


Chip and his wife Shannon Wilson co-founded a meditation blog,, in 2013. In July 2014, the blog's assets were sold to entrepreneur Joe Burton. Chip and Shannon are the lead investors in the new whil (a full service digital health & wellness platform focused on bringing mindfulness to the world) launching in March 2015.

Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design[edit]

The Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University [22] is a $36 million project. Chip and Shannon Wilson pledged $12 million [23] to the School with the goal of solidifying the future of BC’s technical apparel industry. Lululemon, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and the Province of British Columbia serve as additional financial partners. The school broke ground in Fall 2013 and will include new teaching studios, gallery space for student exhibitions and a “usability lab” where students can design, prototype, and market product concepts. The school is scheduled to open in 2015 and is expected to increase the overall number of design students by 57 percent.[24]

Child Run[edit]

Chip and Shannon Wilson are leading sponsors of the annual Child Run. The Child Run is the largest family fun run in Vancouver, with a 5K for runners and walkers on a scenic route through Queen Elizabeth Park and a 1K fun run, followed by a carnival celebration. Proceeds support British Columbia's Children's Hospital and their fight against childhood cancer. In 2014, the run had over 6,000 participants and raised over $1 million.[25]


Controversial Statements[edit]

Wilson attracted controversy for saying, in 2005, that he might tolerate child labour in developing countries as an alternative to absolute poverty. Speaking of 12- and 13-year-old street beggars, he said employment might be a preferable option: "I look at it the same way the WTO (World Trade Organization) does it, and that is that the single easiest way to spread wealth around the world is to have poor countries pull themselves out of poverty".[26] He has also claimed that his company does not make clothes for plus-size women because it costs too much money.[27]

Wilson also blamed excessive pilling in yoga pants on customers themselves, saying "Frankly some women's bodies just don't actually work for it." and "They don't work for some women's's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it."[28] These comments led to Wilson's resignation as Lululemon's Board Chairman in 2013.[29]

CBS Interview[edit]

Wilson appeared in a CBS interview in 2015 where he apologized for past statements regarding the Lululemon yoga pant scandal saying, "... I'm responsible for what comes out of my mouth. And if that's what was interpreted then I fully apologize. Yeah. I'm sorry."[30]

Stephen Colbert mention[edit]

Wilson was the subject of the Stephen Colbert show's segment "Alpha Dog of the Week", on November 18, 2013, where Mr. Colbert sarcastically criticized the CEO for his views on the influence of birth control and for having said that women's bodies "just actually don't work" for his company's pants.[31]


  1. ^ "Forbes: Chip Wilson". Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  2. ^ "Chip Wilson’s Design Made Lululemon A Winner". Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Lululemon founder Chip Wilson steps down from management, will stay on board". The Star (Toronto). 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  5. ^ "Lululemon tries IPO on for size". Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  6. ^ Rohit T. K. and Chris Peters (6 December 2013). "Lululemon names new CEO; founder Chip Wilson to step down". Reuters. 
  7. ^ "lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Votes Against Re-Election of Outside Directors". Yahoo News. 11 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "lLululemon Billionaire Chip Wilson Quits Board, Moves Into Performance Cashmere". Forbes. 2 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Votes Against Re-Election of Outside Directors". 7 August 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Power shifts at Lululemon as Chip Wilson seals deal". Globe and Mail. 11 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Lululemon Billionaire Chip Wilson Quits Board, Moves Into Performance Cashmere". Forbes. 2 February 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Dance, sing, floss and travel". Retrieved 2004-07-23. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Focus on your future" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  17. ^ "Forbes: Chip Wilson". Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Lululemon Founders Running New Charity Like A Business". Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ $12M donation from Lululemon founders helps launch new Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen "" December 7, 2012
  24. ^ Partnership designed for continued success at KPU “” December 7, 2012
  25. ^ "Global News: Child Run 2014". Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  26. ^ "The Tyee – Yoga Mogul Has Critics in a Knot". 2005-02-17. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  27. ^ Bhasin, Kim (2013-07-31). "Shunning Plus-Size Shoppers Is Key To Lululemon's Strategy, Insiders Say". Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  28. ^ "Outrageous Remarks By Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson". Business Insider. 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  29. ^ Eun Kyung Kim (2013-12-10). "Lululemon co-founder steps down in wake of 'women's bodies' remark". Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  30. ^ "Lululemon founder Chip Wilson on past controversy, new family business Kit and Ace". Retrieved 2016-01-15. 
  31. ^ "Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Slammed On 'The Colbert Report' (VIDEO)". November 19, 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.