The next time you slip on a pair of lululemon yoga pants, think of them as wearable art. The founder and soon-to-be-former chair of the Vancouver apparel company, Chip Wilson, and his wife, Shannon Wilson, are being awarded honorary doctorates from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
At a convocation ceremony on May 3, the Wilsons will be recognized alongside multimedia artist and arts advocate Hank Bull, architect Arthur Gensler, as well as visual artists and scholar Gerald McMaster. All five will receive a Doctor of Letters for “their significant accomplishments and contributions to arts and culture”.
This isn’t the first award Chip Wilson has won this year. In March, the Fraser Institute announced that the Vancouver billionaire won the T. Patrick Boyle Founder’s Award. According to the right-wing think tank’s website, this award recognizes an individual in entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
Both of these honours arrive following a tumultuous year for Wilson. Last spring, luluemon was forced to recall some of its pants deemed “too sheer”, causing the publicly-traded company’s stock to dip. Several months later, Wilson was caught on Bloomberg TV stating that “some women’s bodies just don’t work for” lululemon pants and that complaints of pilling are due to thighs rubbing together. A few days after the debacle, Wilson recorded a video posted on lululemon’s YouTube channel stating he was sorry about the situation that had unfolded, but not to his customers.
In December 2013, lululemon announced that Wilson would step down as chair of the company in June 2014, but remain on as a board of directors. He will receive his honorary doctorate from Emily Carr about a month before his resignation.