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Amazon May Be About to Pummel America’s Clothing Stores

 Amazon (AMZN) appears to have ambitions to upend the clothing industry, and retailers from Gap (GPS) to Lululemon (LULU) should be frightened.

As TheStreet has reported, based on several recent job postings on Amazon’s site it’s planning to develop its own line of workout apparel. Wall Street is mixed on the potential for Amazon to develop a strong presence — and disrupt the old guard — in the athletic apparel space, however.

“Just because Amazon sells something, it doesn’t mean they’ll blow the competition out of the water,” said Simeon Siegel, executive director and retail analyst at Instinet

There are clear winners in the athletic apparel space and they win because of their product, strong brand loyalty, who’s sponsoring them and what they stand for, Siegel said.  While a workout clothing line from Amazon is “not a good thing,” he does not think athletic behemoths such as Nike (NKE) and Under Armour (UA) should be “quivering” because the e-commerce giant is entering the space.

Bridget Weishaar, senior equity analyst at Morningstar, also does not believe an Amazon athletic apparel line would have a big effect on sportswear giants right away.

“I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact especially in the near term,” Weishaar said, “Especially with Lululelmon, it’s more than just the apparel itself.”

Lululemon hosts yoga classes in its stores and the company is more of a “culture and lifestyle,” Weishaar explained. The retailer has brand loyalty, ambassadors who wear the products and has a feeling of community, which is “much harder to break.”

Because Amazon is not a brick-and-mortar retailer, it also doesn’t have the background of trust in the quality, she added. “You can’t walk into the store to touch the product,” she said, so convincing a customer to purchase an item may be more difficult.

It’s also time consuming to build a brand, she said.

While Nike and Under Armour have less of a community feel in their stores than Lululemon, they have built their brands for many years and have customer loyalty. Quality is also really hard to match, especially quickly, Weishaar noted.

Even still, Amazon looks poised to take on the challenge of getting bigger in the clothing space.

Having mixed success in luring top fashion apparel brands such as Calvin Klein and Levi Strauss to sell on its site, Amazon has taken matters into its own hands. Last year, the company opened photo studios in New York and London, and has begun selling a host of private label apparel brands. It also launched a free daily show dedicated to fashion.