Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin told CNBC he is anticipating the end of the company's cornerstone athleisure style, stating the trend has become oversaturated by competitors like Nike and Under Armour.
Lululemon continues to redesign its women’s styles, while growth in menswear has helped contribute to same-store sales increases of 6% in its latest quarter.
Lululemon founder Chip Wilson doesn't share the same sense of optimism as Potdevin. Wilson complained to investors last month that the company’s financial performance is “dismal.”
Potdevin acknowledges the fashion inevitability: Trends come, and trends go. Athleisure has been a hot commodity in an otherwise tepid clothing market, generating nearly $2 billion in apparel sales in 2014, according to market research firm the NPD Group.
Last year the Boston Globe proclaimed that fitness clothing, which is now often worn outside of yoga class and the gym, had “become a part of the permanent fashion landscape.” But that moment is passing, says retail analyst Jan Kniffen, and Lululemon will pay the price of being the space’s top downward-facing dog.
"That piece of the business is not going to be there," Kniffen told CNBC Friday, adding that denim will soon reclaim a greater share of fashion sales.
But Potdevin appears to be prepared for a change, already adding new clothing styles that make Lululemon’s apparel less form-fitting and, therefore, less fitness-focused. Its fitness styles will still be there for those actually heading to the gym, he says.
"Athleisure, that bubble will pop and the people that are not in it for the right reasons will go away," Potdevin told CNBC.
The question is whether women will think of Lululemon for those breezier styles—and whether the likes of Nike, Under Armour, Gap’s Athleta and others now enjoying the athleisure boom can successfully pivot.