Companies & Industries

Kit and Ace sheds staff and its CEO, but not its expansion plans

CEO Darrell Kopke, a veteran of Lululemon Athletica, is out amid job cuts at Kit and Ace, but the company plans 10 more locations

Interior of a Kit and Ace store

A Kit and Ace location in Minneapolis. (Renee Jones Schneider/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Getty)

Former Kit and Ace CEO Darrell Kopke

Former Kit and Ace CEO Darrell Kopke. (Institute B)

Vancouver-based Casual fashion chain Kit and Ace has parted ways with its CEO, Darrell Kopke, in addition to laying off 10% of its head office staff.

Founded in 2014 by Shannon and JJ Wilson, the wife and son (by a different marriage) of Lululemon Athletica founder Chip Wilson, the retailer of “technical cashmere” continues to grow at a breakneck pace. It has opened 61 outlets in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Japan and the U.K. and plans 10 more openings this year. It has about 700 staff worldwide.

Kopke, the sixth employee of Lululemon and general manager from 2001 to 2009, went on to write The Generous Leader and co-found Institute B, an accelerator for so-called B corps, or social benefit corporations. He remains the co-owner of Oranj Dance Fitness, a fitness studio, and a director of Peekaboo Beans, a children’s clothing line. He still appears in a recruiting video on the Kit and Ace website as CEO. The role doubtless made for a complex relationship with Shannon Wilson, who heads up product design, and JJ, in charge of brand development. When asked whom he reports to in an interview with Canadian Business a year ago, he responded, “I report to the owners, the Wilson family.”

Following his resignation as a Lululemon director last year, Chip Wilson has taken a more prominent, if undefined, role in Kit and Ace. Upon the publication earlier this month of a New York Times story wherein he berated the reporter for lateness and made an offhand reference to “Jewish Standard Time,” Kopke tweeted inscrutably: “Oh jeez.”


More about Kit and Ace’s “Technical Cashmere”