Apparel startup Kit and Ace, founded in 2014 by Lululemon Athletica founder Chip Wilson’s wife and son, has laid off 35 people at its Vancouver headquarters, Reuters reports.
The 10% trim of its HQ staff comes as the retailer, which specializes in “technical cashmere,” a performance cashmere fabric of its own design, has been expanding its physical store footprint worldwide.
Kit and Ace already runs 61 stores globally and plans 10 more this year.
Shannon Wilson, Chip Wilson’s wife and formerly Lululemon’s head designer, launched Kit and Ace with Chip Wilson’s son J.J. Wilson.
Once Chip Wilson left Lululemon for good, he joined Kit and Ace, and the move seemed like the best revenge. Wilson had clashed with Lululemon’s management and Lululemon was floundering in the “athleisure” space it had created while Kit and Ace was growing rapidly.
Indeed, when Lululemon first launched, it hit gold, inspiring a fleet of imitators that have become fierce competitors. It’s far from clear if Kit and Ace will have that kind of luck. A lot depends on whether these very basic basics seem to be made of fabrics that wash, wear, and perform well, and can maintain a “better” vibe to justify its “better” price.
The layoffs seem like a sign of a stumble, though, as the company noted in a statement, that’s to be expected for a new retail effort.
"Like other tech start-ups, we are in a constant pursuit of learning, improving and adjusting our strategy," CEO Paul Wilson (not a relative of the founding family) said in a statement.