Chip Wilson

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Chip Wilson
Dennis J. Wilson

1956 (age 62–63)
ResidenceVancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Calgary (B.A.)
OccupationFounder 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).[1] Wilson is widely considered to be the creator of the athleisure trend.[2] In 2016 he organized his personal and business interests into the holding company Hold It All Inc.[3][4]

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.[5] As of 2016, his personal and business interests are maintained through Hold It All Inc.[4][3]

Wilson served as CEO of Lululemon until 2005, when he sold a 48% minority stake in the company to private equity firms Advent International [6] and Highland Capital Partners.[7] In 2007 an IPO was offered by Lululemon Athletica Inc. on Canadian and US exchanges.[8] In January 2012, Wilson retired from his executive post as chief innovation and branding officer, but remained chairman of the board of directors.[7] In December 2013, he stepped down from his role as non-executive chairman.[9]

On June 11, 2014, Wilson raised concerns that the Lululemon board was not aligned with the core values of product and innovation on which the company was founded, and on which it thrived.[10] Six months after the board's reconstitution, the company's share price rose from a June 2014 low of $36.26 to $65.33, a change in market capitalization of over $4 billion.[11]

On August 7, 2014, Wilson sold 13.85% of his ownership in Lululemon to Advent for approximately $845 million.[12][13][14]

In October 2014, Wilson participated in TEDxVancouver, where he discussed "Building Legacy in the Digital Age".[15]

In February 2015, Wilson stepped down from Lululemon's 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." [16]

In December 2015, in an interview with Bloomberg Business, Wilson said, "Three years ago, when I was chairman and Lululemon was worth twice as much as Under Armour, I personally was thinking of buying Under Armour."[17]

In June 2016, Wilson published an open letter to shareholders of Lululemon stating that Lululemon had "lost its way" and given up market share to Nike and Under Armour, after he was denied the opportunity to speak at the company's annual meetings.[18][19][20]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson, born in 1956,[21] graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Calgary in 1980.[22] He has five sons, two from his first marriage, to Nancy,[23] 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, BC.

In 2004 Ernst & Young named Wilson its Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year for Innovation and Marketing.[24] As of 2012, Forbes ranked Wilson the 10th-wealthiest Canadian and 401st in the world, with an estimated net worth as of March  2013 of $2.9 billion.[25]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2014, Wilson and his wife, Shannon Wilson, received honorary doctorates from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.[26] One year later, they received honorary doctorates from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University.[27]


In 2007, Wilson and his wife, Shannon Wilson, launched imagine1day, a charity dedicated to improving education conditions in Ethiopia. The organization's goal is for all Ethiopians to have access to quality education free of foreign aid funding by 2030.[28] As of June 2016, imagine1day had 487 partner schools, 35 of them built from the ground up by its team. Also, 1,130 school clubs had been created, with half run by girls. 66,420 books, 180 science kits, and 160 sports sets had been provided to students. Imagine1day estimates that over 252,000 lives are transformed annually through its education and training.[29]

The Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University[30] is a $36 million project. Chip and Shannon Wilson pledged $12 million[31] 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 was scheduled to open in 2015 and was expected to increase the number of design students by 57%.[32]

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 5 km for runners and walkers on a scenic route through Queen Elizabeth Park and a 1 km fun run, followed by a carnival celebration. Proceeds support British Columbia's Children's Hospital and its fight against childhood cancer. In 2014, the run had over 6,000 participants and raised over $1 million.[33]

In 2013, Chip and Shannon Wilson launched, a website designed "to convince professionals to meditate a few times a day in increments of just 60 seconds" by making it more accessible.[34]


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."[35]

On November 18, 2013, Wilson was the subject of the Stephen Colbert show's segment "Alpha Dog of the Week"; Colbert sarcastically criticized Wilson for his views on the influence of birth control and for having said that some women's bodies "just actually don't work" for his company's pants.[36]


  1. ^ "Forbes: Chip Wilson". Retrieved 2012-03-01.
  2. ^ "The Arrival of Athleisure: Five Companies Conquering the Trend of Technical Apparel". Techvibes. 2016-07-14. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  3. ^ a b "Hold It All". Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  4. ^ a b "Hold It All: Chip Wilson's Vision - Danes In Hawaii". Danes In Hawaii. 2016-10-23. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  5. ^ "Chip Wilson's Design Made Lululemon A Winner". Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  7. ^ a b "Lululemon founder Chip Wilson steps down from management, will stay on board". The Star. Toronto. 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  8. ^ "Lululemon tries IPO on for size". Retrieved 2007-03-27.
  9. ^ Rohit T. K. and Chris Peters (6 December 2013). "Lululemon names new CEO; founder Chip Wilson to step down". Reuters.
  10. ^ "lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Votes Against Re-Election of Outside Directors". Yahoo News. 11 June 2014.
  11. ^ "lLululemon Billionaire Chip Wilson Quits Board, Moves Into Performance Cashmere". Forbes. 2 February 2015.
  12. ^ "lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Votes Against Re-Election of Outside Directors". 7 August 2014.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Power shifts at Lululemon as Chip Wilson seals deal". Globe and Mail. 11 June 2014.
  15. ^ TEDx Talks (2015-01-29), Building legacy in the digital age - Chip Wilson - TEDxVancouver, retrieved 2016-03-24
  16. ^ "Lululemon Billionaire Chip Wilson Quits Board, Moves Into Performance Cashmere". Forbes. 2 February 2015.
  17. ^ matt_townsend, Nick Turner SFNick Matthew Townsend. "Lululemon Founder Says He Considered Acquiring Under Armour". Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  18. ^ "Lululemon Founder Slams Company, Now That He's Allowed To". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  19. ^ Mau, Dhani (June 2, 2016). "Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Created a Whole Website to Criticize the Company". Fashionista. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  20. ^ "Elevate Lululemon". Elevate lululemon. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Dance, sing, floss and travel". Retrieved 2004-07-23.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Focus on your future" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  25. ^ "Forbes: Chip Wilson". Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^
  29. ^ "imagine1day: Get to know us". Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  30. ^
  31. ^ $12M donation from Lululemon founders helps launch new Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen "" December 7, 2012
  32. ^ Partnership designed for continued success at KPU "" December 7, 2012
  33. ^ "Global News: Child Run 2014". Retrieved 2014-05-27.
  34. ^ "Why Lululemon's Billionaire Founder Is Making One-Minute Meditation His Next Big Project". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  35. ^ "Lululemon founder Chip Wilson on past controversy, new family business Kit and Ace". Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  36. ^ "Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Slammed On 'The Colbert Report' (VIDEO)". November 19, 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.