Outspoken Lululemon founder reveals why he hates 'athleisure' — the term is 'totally lame'

  • The word "athleisure" is practically synonymous with Lululemon, but that term is "totally lame," says the company's outspoken founder, Chip Wilson.
  • "That's the last thing in the world that it is — leisure. We come from from function first and then make it look good," he says.
  • Wilson, a frequent critic of the company, says Lululemon needs to make some changes and if it does, it could gain another $10 billion in market cap.

The word "athleisure" is practically synonymous with Lululemon, but the company's founder told CNBC that the term is "totally lame."

Billionaire Chip Wilson, who founded Lululemon in 1998, said that "athleisure" was coined by the New York fashion media.

"That's the last thing in the world that it is — leisure. We come from function first and then make it look good, where athleisure is looking good and then trying to make it look athletic," he said Monday on "Squawk on the Street."

Instead, he likes "technical apparel."

In his new book, "Little Black Stretchy Pants," Wilson wrote: "To me athleisure denotes a non-athletic, smoking, Diet Coke-drinking woman in a New Jersey shopping mall wearing an unflattering pink velour tracksuit."

The outspoken Wilson resigned from his role as Lululemon's chairman in 2013 after an uproar over his comments that the company's pants do not "work" with certain women's bodies. He left the board entirely in 2015.

However, he still remains Lululemon's biggest shareholder, according to Forbes. He's also one of the company's biggest critics.

"Lululemon is missing the West Coast culture and it's missing someone who really understands technical apparel and there's nobody on the board or the CEO who has that," Wilson said.

For one, he thinks the company missed a big opportunity to capture the big trend of "mindfulness." According to the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, mindfulness means "maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens." The movement has swelled in popularity in recent years.

"Lululemon could have owned that 100 percent and I think that would have had probably a 30 percent lift on the market cap in the last five years," he said.

That said, Wilson sees "such incredible possibility" if it can just make some changes.

"It's just lost a lot of institutional knowledge over the last six or seven years. If it can get that back and bring back transformational development of its people, which really was the focus on the company, and really start to understand what innovation is and what the brand is, then I think it's got another $10 billion [in market cap] to gain, like quite soon," he said.