Beyonce fans are awaiting an album from the songstress, but instead the megastar announced Thursday that she's releasing an athleisure clothing line in partnership with British fashion company TopShop. The news, which quickly became a trending topic on social media, brought about controversy between Lululemon Athletica and Beyonce fans, both no strangers to .
In a series of now-deleted tweets, Lululemon insinuated that Ivy Park, which launches in April, imitates its brand. As a result, furious Beyonce fans — popularly known as the BeyHive — immediately slammed the company into backtracking on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a challenge is on the horizon for both brands, because according to this former retail executive, the industry is at its peak and it's bound to slow down.
"I think athleisure is not going to be growing at the pace it was because 1) the category is getting very full at all price points," Jan Rogers Kniffen, CEO at Worldwide Enterprises, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Friday. "I'm a big fan of Beyonce ... but I think it's another indicator of one more piece that has come together to fill up the space."
In contrast, market research firm Euromonitor International reported in March that "value sales of sportswear are expected to rise at a [compound annual growth rate] of 4 [percent] at constant 2015 prices over the forecast period, thanks to the expected 'athleisure' trend." The company expects that the trend's continued growth will incentivize others to join the market, rather than contract growth.
In terms of investing, retail experts consider that Lululemon's stock will face challenges in the face of the trend's potential slowdown. However, the Lululemon stock is up more than 12 percent in the past week and up over 30 percent year to date.
"With the amount of competition going into athleisure, I think Lululemon has to be at risk," Liz Dunn, Talmage Advisors' CEO and former Macquarie Capital senior retail analyst, told CNBC on Friday. "There's a lot of competition coming from the high end, so Beyonce's new line is going to be at the high end; all of these new entrants ... coming right for Lululemon," she said, adding that these elements pose risk for the brand.
In other retail news, market watchers are eyeing department stores as the space is challenged by increased decline in market share in the retail space.
"I agree that department stores are going to continue to lose market share," Dunn said. "I think there's been a shift in how consumers are discovering brands, and it doesn't involve department stores."