Q&A: Chip Wilson

The man behind Lululemon always flies in comfort

I thought I had the perfect question to launch my interview with Chip Wilson, founder and chairman of Lululemon, the clothing-cum-lifestyle-choice of yoga fans everywhere. It went something like this: “When you get on an airplane, do you look around to see how many passengers are bearing your brand’s unmistakable logo?”

“Well,” he answered. “These days, I mostly fly by private jet.”

“Oh,” I said. “Of course you do.”

Of course. This man chairs a multi-billion-dollar company, and his brand is practically a religion. Yes, he has a private jet.

But that’s OK. The frequent flyer—sometimes on commercial planes— was still willing to address that question, as well as share some hard-earned travel insights and a few fashion tips, too.

How many days a year do you spend on the road?

I probably spend about 200 hours a year in the air, probably one trip to Asia, two to Europe, and then probably four major family vacations to the Caribbean, Australia or Africa; we have a charity in Africa [imagine1day, which supports education in Ethiopia].

When on a commercial flight, do you take note of people wearing Lululemon?

It’s fascinating. I recognized some years ago that people were using it for travel wear. The big change [is from] “I know I’m nearing Vancouver again,” or “I’m going back into Canada because I can see Lululemon.” Now, I see it in London or the Tokyo airport—that’s a huge shift.

Do you bring workout gear when you travel?

I pack running shoes and a pair of regular shoes. I have size 13 feet and so my shoes can take up almost a whole bag—I have to pack carefully.

Book or e-reader?

It’s very rare that I read; I’m almost always doing business stuff on the plane. So then I’m on my iPhone writing notes or writing emails so that when I land, everything’s done.

Any packing tips?

If I’m going for more than two days, I’m usually carrying a big bag because I buy a lot of clothing. I think most people go to museums, but my wife and I go to clothing stores. We buy a lot of clothes; we don’t necessarily even wear them, but we like the art of clothing.

Do you wear Lululemon when you travel?

Definitely. I think it’s more uncomfortable for a guy because, you know, you sit, and you’ve got private parts and areas that get very scrunched from sitting, and that’s critical. [I wear the] Kung Fu Pant; it’s a loose but not overly baggy pant with what I would call a masculine structure.

Key piece of business advice?

I can be right or I can be rich. I try to give up my ego. I think by giving up my ego I include more people and become wealthier. Of course, I define rich as in money, family, health and everything else.


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Wow. Mr. Wilson may have found millions but it seems as though he has completely lost sight of his company's vision. Or perhaps the vision has always been nothing more than marketing. Either way, I found this article depressing. He doesnt read and would rather buy clothing he will never wear than experience a museum. He'd rather be rich than right?!? Shame.

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