Who started Lululemon?

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Lululemon, seen as a purveyor of yoga-inspired activewear, was founded by Chip Wilson in Vancouver, Canada, in 1998.

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What started as a design studio by day and yoga studio by night has now become a global phenomenon. Since its first standalone store emerged in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood back in 2000, the company has since expanded to hundreds of locations around the world in order for men and women to fulfill their athleisure needs.

The company initially created apparel for women to wear during yoga, but after customer feedback it started developing activewear for various other activities, including running, cycling and training.

Prior to his retail ventures, Wilson attended the University of Calgary in Canada where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1979. However, Wilson paused his studies for just over a year while he worked Alaskan oil pipelines, Forbes reported.

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After graduating, the young entrepreneur, who was the son of a seamstress, according to Forbes, founded Westbeach Snowboard, selling apparel for surfers, skaters and snowboarders, before starting his yoga-inspired venture. Wilson had been credited with creating the “athleisure” retail category due to his efforts with Westbeach and Lululemon, according to his LinkedIn page.

By 2007, Wilson took the high-end athletic retailer, now valued around $41 billion, public.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LULU LULULEMON ATHLETICA INC. 323.74 +11.44 +3.66%

Wilson sat at the helm of Lululemon for nearly two decades before resigning as chairman in 2013 after raising ire with his comments suggesting that some women’s bodies were not made for Lululemon’s clothing. He also said thighs rubbing over time will cause the pants to wear out too quickly. Wilson did seem to apologize to Lululemon’s workers for the criticism his comments received but didn’t retract his original statements.

Wilson remained on the board but completely removed himself from the business by 2015, Forbes reported. As of 2019, Wilson still owned more than 9 percent of the company's stock, according to the outlet, which pegs his net worth at around $5.3 billion.

In 2018, years after leaving Lululemon, Wilson released his business memoir, "Little Black Stretchy Pants, the Story of lululemon by the Founder: Chip Wilson." The book, according to its description on Amazon, is in part about "missed opportunity–five years of missed opportunity."

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To date, Wilson serves as the executive director of Hold It All, a family holding company for himself and his family. Through the multifaceted organization, Wilson owns real estate and private equity, according to Forbes.

Amongst his business ventures, the now father of five remains on the board of various companies including Facio Therapies, a Netherlands-based company founded by families affected by Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy, Finnish headquartered sporting goods company Amer Sports, and Low Tide Properties, a private real estate investment, development, and management company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, according to his LinkedIn page.

Wilson is also an advisor to Anta Sports Products Ltd., a leading sportswear company in China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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