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Walmart is increasing its vogue focus with a brand new non-public vogue label for women and men

Free assembly men lifestyle

Source: Walmart

Walmart has taken steps to expand its fashion credentials. It acquired popular brands such as men's fashion retailer Bonobos. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Sofía were addressed Vergara inspires clothing collections. And a contract was signed with ThredUp, a second hand seller of clothing, shoes and accessories High-end brands on a budget.

The retail giant doubled in size on Monday due to another part of its strategy: creating exclusive brands for shoppers looking for style and value. It launches Free Assembly, a new brand of modern essentials for men and women. The brand launches online and in 250 stores this week.

Even before the pandemic, the big box retailer and the country's largest grocer looked beyond the aisle of products. Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, said the company is looking to increase sales of general goods like clothing in order to turn e-commerce into profitable business.

With the coronavirus pandemic and recession, Walmart has another chance to gain market share in apparel. Customers have bought everything from pantry staples and puzzles to workout clothes on their website and in their stores. On the flip side, many large clothing retailers have been forced to close while on-site orders and take thousands of employees off. Some like J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy, while others like Macy & # 39; s and Kohl & # 39; s saw profits decline.

The pandemic has created a dramatic shaking between owners and non-owners in retail and clothing stores. According to McKinsey and Company, apparel sales for the industry will decrease by 20% to 30% this year and 10% to 25% year over year in 2021.

Women's tiered maxi dress blue floral

Source: Walmart

In contrast, for mass retailers like Walmart and Target, apparel sales are expected to grow 10% to 20% year over year in 2020, said Althea Peng, who heads McKinsey's fashion and luxury operations in America. She said they are taking that percentage off of department stores, budget retailers and malls, which are likely to see a sharp drop of between 30% and 40% this year.

"Consumers really appreciate the convenience of a one-stop shop," said Peng. "They do some of their clothing purchases at the same time they are going to pick up essentials."

She said those who buy clothes have other criteria too: They prefer comfortable and casual instead of suits or dresses because they work from home and have few social gatherings. They want items that won't go out of style. And they are hungry for great deals if they watch their wallets during the recession.

Walmart's brands might appeal to these types of consumers. There are several other exclusive clothing brands for women, including Scoop, a revived New York fast fashion brand, and Eloquii Elements, an oversized women's brand based on a brand it acquired and reinterpreted. Free Assembly is the premier upscale brand for men.

Still, Walmart needs to demonstrate its ability to navigate the fashion world, where trends can come and go and consumers can be volatile in terms of size, fit and quality.

The increasing number of bankruptcy filings during the pandemic included one of Walmart's former business partners: Le Tote, the parent company of Lord & Taylor. Walmart had signed a contract to have the department store's clothes on its website, an effort that quietly faded.

It has also bought a few brands of clothing just to sell them quickly – including women's clothing brand ModCloth.

Free Assembly was designed by Dwight Fenton, former chief creative officer at Bonobos and a veteran of brands that have a following including J. Crew, Vineyard Vines, and Old Navy.

Men's Vintage 2 Pocket Flannel Red Plaid

Source: Walmart

At a virtual launch event, Fenton said the Free Assembly was two years in preparation. He said he designed the brand's clothing to feel like "familiar, timeless pieces" that customers can combine with what's already in their closets.

Denise Incandela, who directs women's and online fashion brands for Walmart, sees the new line as "a very versatile brand," spanning ages 20 and well beyond. At launch, the brand will not include children or accessories – but said this is being considered for the future.

The fall collection includes items such as a thick sweater and wide-leg corduroy trousers for women and a flannel button-down for men. The items cost between $ 9 and $ 45.

She said his clothing lines, like the Sofía Jeans developed with Vergara have caught on with consumers – and Walmart is confident that the new brand will also find a response.

"We believe very much in these upscale brands at these prices and are excited to expand our range for our customers who have responded very well to them," she said. "It's a big part of our strategy."

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