The founder of Vancouver, B.C.-based Lululemon aims to outfit yogis all over
Hip-hugging, stretchy pants and tiny tanks emblazoned with theLululemon Athletica logo have become so trendy that it's easy toforget how recently yoga clothes came into vogue. But Lululemonfounder Chip Wilson recalls his first yoga class nine years ago,when, he says, "people were sweating, everything was binding, andyou could see people pulling at their clothes." Yoga hadn't yetgone mainstream ― there were only six people in the class― but Wilson, who had previously founded an internationalsnowboard gear and clothing company, recognized a wave about tocrest.
In 1998, Lululemon's first store opened in Vancouver, B.C.'sKitsilano neighborhood, which Wilson considers "the health andathletic center of the world" ― it's home to more than 20athletic stores on Fourth Avenue alone. Now he runs 35 storesworldwide, but to him, the Kitsilano store still represents theheart and soul of Lululemon.
In summer, well-known instructor Eoin Finn teaches power-yogaclasses at the Showboat, a theater stage at Kits Beach, and now oneof Vancouver's "in" places to work out. For Wilson, it's liketherapy. "The ocean and the wind are so fresh, and the view fromKits Beach is unrivaled worldwide. It feels like I'm on vacationall the time."
Relaxed as he may be, though, he always has his eyes on theprize. "We want to be the clothing of choice for athletesparticipating in the 2010 Olympics that'll be in Vancouver."
At the rate Wilson's going, that's not a far-fetched goal.