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Today, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson announced his resignation from Lululemon's board in order to focus on Kit + Ace, a technical cashmere brand recently founded by his wife and son. He is also the focus of a substantial new New York Times magazine article about Wilson's journey from building Lululemon into an huge brand to the sheer-yoga pants episode that caused his resignation to his new vision for Kit + Ace. You would think that someone who went through multiple public relations debacles would emerge a bit more savvy about the press. You would be incorrect. Even in his conciliatory Times profile, Wilson can't help but appear crude, sexist, and plain weird. Here are a few of the most cringe-inducing quotes, including a leering-butt moment:
· Wilson's reasoning behind Lulemon's success: "I think that Lululemon was so successful because I was probably the only straight guy that was making women's apparel, and I knew what a guy liked. Girls ended up wearing it, and guys commented on it."
· The interview was conducted while hiking in Vancouver, and Wilson chats with fellow hikers wearing Lululemon. Author Amy Wallace writes: "As he spoke, a shapely brunette approached from below. She passed us on the narrow trail, wearing pants with the Lululemon logo just above her tailbone. Wilson followed her backside with his eyes. He turned to me with a grin. "It's my job," he said. "I have to look."
· In the article, Wilson says he was "socially inept" growing up, and even in his 20s, he didn't understand women. "I didn't know how to be with a woman. Like, what do they really want?" he asks.
· Wilson claims that even though it's been reported that he said it was funny that Japanese people couldn't pronounce Lululemon, he never said that. Instead, Wallace describes the origin story behind Lululemon's name: "Wilson had also briefly marketed a subbrand called Homeless that was very popular there—in part, he deduced, because it had the letter L in it, which signaled to Japanese customers that it was authentically American. "So in my mind," he told me, "next time I have a business, I'm going to put three L's in it, and maybe the Japanese will pay three times as much for it."