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Kit and Ace, the technical apparel company started by Lululemon founder (and ex-CEO) Chip Wilson and his family, is closing all of its US stores. It plans to focus its efforts on its online and Canadian business, the company confirmed.
Wilson’s altheisure company launched in 2014, pushing technical cashmere and luxury athleisure clothing meant to be worn both at and outside of the gym. The company rapidly expanded in the short amount of time it’s been around, growing to 61 stores in five countries and 700 employees by early 2016 — probably not a great idea, considering the currently dismal retail landscape.
“We recognize the traditional world of bricks and mortar retailing is changing, which is why we’re shifting strategies,” Wilson said in a circulated statement. “We believe in the business model for Kit and Ace. Going forward, we will be a stronger company. Fewer stores require fewer people. We remain deeply grateful for the creativity and commitment of those leaving the company and thank them for their valuable contribution.”
While Kit and Ace was in expansion mode (which some dubbed as “unicorn delusions”), Wilson told the Star Tribune in 2015 that the company “had money” and that he didn’t “think we would go into such an aggressive expansion if we didn’t see such excitement in the first few months.” Now, the company is closing 32 stores, leaving just nine open in Canada (though it’s also laid off an undisclosed number of employees in its Vancouver headquarters).
Yesterday, the company put up a message on its Facebook page alerting shoppers that all stores in the US, the UK, and Australia would be closing.
“Our Canadian showrooms will remain open,” the message reads. “To our global guests: stay in touch. You can still shop our entire collection and buy the clothes you love at kitandace.com.”
The company Wilson started to rival Lululemon, the cash cow he founded nearly 20 years ago, has been in trouble for some time. After several shufflings of CEOs, Kit and Ace announced in September it would close a quarter of its stores, and some 20 percent of the employees working at the Vancouver offices were laid off, too.
More recently, Wilson shared his plans to rebrand his company away from pushing technical cashmere and more toward being a wellness-infused company that offers meditation classes in its stores. Guess that didn’t work too well, either.