Former CEO JJ Wilson gets candid about the internal disfunction at Kit and Ace.

VANCOUVER — Since the abrupt mass closing of Kit and Ace’s entire retail footprint outside of its home base of Canada — 36 stores in the US, UK, and Australia, amounting to 80% of its retail arm — candid thoughts from Kit and Ace leadership have been few and far between.

No surprise there. Co-founder JJ Wilson, however, recently changed that. You’ll recall that JJ Wilson, who started the brand in 2014 with his step mother Shannon, was relieved of his executive role in the fall of 2016 when his father, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, took the reins — one of the first signs that Kit and Ace was in trouble.

JJ has been forthcoming on Kit and Ace’s missteps in a PR push aimed to both raise his profile and build momentum for the debut of his new clothing brand arriving this fall. His comments on the turmoil offer some clarity:

“There were just too many big people in the business, and it was creating too much confusion.”

“There wasn’t one strong voice or one strong opinion about how the company should be run.”

“There are tons of things that I would have done differently,” [he] said.

“We had a fear that, because of who we were as a family and what we had accomplished with Lululemon, that if we didn’t move quickly, and build a brand fast enough, people would copy us.”

He now believes that a strategy with fewer stores can be more productive than one with many stores and that exclusivity can be an asset because those who love the brand will seek it out.

“There’s a right kind of growth, and we didn’t do a good job at proving the concept [of Kit and Ace],” he said.

“Where we failed is that we didn’t allow the brand to build enough brand equity or a consumer profile.”

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