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Lululemon CEO: Talk of athleisure slowdown is a 'misinterpretation'

  • Lululemon topped second-quarter earnings estimates by 4 cents, revenue estimates by $13 million and comparable sales estimates by nearly 3 percent.
  • The retailer grew online sales by 30 percent as some competitors have struggled to conquer the web.
  • CEO Laurent Potdevin said talk of a slowdown in athleisure is a "misinterpretation of what's going on."

Lululemon's latest earnings report challenged talk of a slowdown in the hot athleisure market.

The athletic apparel retailer topped second-quarter earnings estimates by 4 cents, revenue estimates by $13 million and comparable sales estimates by nearly 3 percent.

Investors welcomed the good news, sending shares up 7.3 percent on Friday. CEO Laurent Potdevin didn't seem as surprised as Wall Street did.

"I think (the idea of a slowdown is) a misinterpretation of what's going on and how people want to live their life," Potdevin told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday. "I mean, I was in Europe a couple weeks ago, I'm going to Asia in three weeks, and we see more and more people wanting to live an athletic lifestyle."

Lululemon grew online sales 30 percent in the quarter as other retailers have struggled on the web. One of its competitors, Nike, announced in June it would partner with Amazon to sell some of its products.

Part of the world is increasingly commoditized, Potdevin said, and nobody is going to beat Amazon at Amazon. Lululemon competes in a "very different playground," he said.

"A playground that's differentiated by innovation, by premium products," he said. "We're solving problems for the athletes, so we're actually not in the world of commodity at all, and that gives us a very unique point of view."

Potdevin pointed to the success of Lululemon's new $98 sports bra. The price tag is much higher than competing products, but it has not deterred customers. It is the company's most expensive bra and has quickly become its best-selling bra, he said.

The retailer has been trying to attract more male customers. Men are moving away from wanting to be the toughest, fastest or strongest, Potdevin said. They're now looking at life in a more "holistic" way and combining mindfulness with athleticism.

"So they certainly want to be at the top of their game from a physical standpoint, and they want to train for life and be ready for anything that comes their way," Potdevin said. "But there is another dimension that's maybe a little bit more vulnerable, more courageous and that really makes them a better athlete, a better father, a better leader, a better friend, and that's really in the sweet spot of who we are."

Lululemon started selling Athletic Propulsion Labs sneakers in select stores last month. Potdevin cautioned the program is just a pilot, but he said Lululemon is a brand that has permission to play in many categories.

The retailer will experiment with the shoe category and continue to look at new ones.