Lululemon founder says that the company is missing out on a $1 billion opportunity

Lulu Chip Wilson


Chip Wilson

Lululemon's notorious founder, Chip Wilson, isn't happy with some things at Lululemon.

He recently wrote a letter to shareholders, claiming that the company has "lost its way."

He spoke to Business Insider about some of the mistakes that  the company has been making - including one that could be costing the company a fortune.Advertisement

"Lululemon has had a priority to do men's, women's sport bras, and international for like six, seven years now, and it's like the world has passed them by in that market," he said. "And so when they go into the store they buy everything else but that - they do buy men's, they do buy sports bras, and there are international stores but at about 20% of what it should be now, and it should be another billion and a half in sales on top $2 billion now."

He said that Lululemon should be focusing on making great technical clothing - and he compared it to Tesla.

"It needs to be building more Teslas or something to that extent or Apple's smartphone, because we owned that business of taking something technical and making it beautiful and taking it directly to the customer as Tesla and apple have done after," he said. "But Lululemon has just not seen how big the market place so that's one thing." 

Further, the lack of mastering 'technicality' made him critical the company's fashion-minded and sophisticated Lab concept."It's moving into something that they don't know about it and they haven't won the technical market yet that they need to win." Advertisement

Lulu Lemon Concept Store 14

Hollis Johnson

Lululemon's Lab

But what Lululemon's biggest potential mistake would be  to latch on to the athleisure mentality and not zero in on being technical. Besides, Lululemon doesn't even make athleisure apparel, he says.

"I think that there's been a collapse of what someone would call the 'athleisure market,' which is what some fashion magazine in New York would have done that ten years ago, ten years behind," Wilson said. "We call it 'streetnic' - technical, stretch, street ... It's not fashion people trying to make this stuff look athletic. [The] Lululemon business is athletic wear that's made technical and just because [it] works so well technically, people wear it onto the street."Advertisement

"If Lululemon thinks its in the athleisure business -  that would be its biggest mistake."