Wal-Mart’s Urban Male Initiative

Discussion
Mar 31, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


In its continuing bid to be cool, Wal-Mart has announced the launch of the new Exsto line of clothing targeted to young urban males or others who simply want to dress like them.


The new line, which will initially be carried in 300 of the retailer’s U.S. stores, “mirrors the design and quality of urban brands offered in department stores,” but at the lower prices expected from Wal-Mart,” according to Andy Barron, merchandiser of general apparel for the chain.


The Exsto introduction comes as a follow up to Wal-Mart’s launch of the Metro 7 line for young women last September.


Wal-Mart, reports the Financial Times, has hired G-III Apparel to produce the Exsto line. The supplier also produces clothing for brands including Calvin Klein, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Sean John and others.


Moderator’s Comment: Has Wal-Mart found the right formula for moving past its fashion-backward reputation to one where the retailer is given serious
consideration as a place to buy hip clothing? Who has the most to lose if Wal-Mart is successful in remaking its fashion image?

George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "Wal-Mart’s Urban Male Initiative"


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Carol Spieckerman
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Wal-Mart absolutely HAD to create Exsto as a male counterbalance to Metro 7 and the re-working of Nobo (No Boundaries) in womens. Department store shoppers absolutely will shop these brands – There is no reason to expect that companions of “Gracie”, the female shopper that Wal-Mart identified as crossing the aisle for Metro 7, will not check out Exsto.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Like the Target story, Wal-Mart is experimenting. Will it work? Can’t you just hear Sam saying, “The customers will tell us.”

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
14 years 11 months ago
Young men’s fashion, in my experience, is even harder to do than teen girl fashion. At least with teen girl, the stuff changes often enough that if you miss, you don’t suffer too long before you get another shot. With young men, it is ALL about image. Image, image, image. Where you got it is almost as important as what you got. And brands are even more important to young men than to young women. Check the market research. Guys in general, and the mass market guy in particular, tend to have much less of a defined sense of personal style. They are willing to take fewer risks, and spend a lower portion of their disposable income on clothes (beer is so expensive). Brands do what they are supposed to do for guys, as do retail store brands. PacSun is cool. No worries in shopping there. The people in the store are either hot girls or hip dudes. I fit in. I feel cool. I trust that even though I have no clue on what… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Only time will tell. As to who loses, I’m putting my money on the kids.

David Morse
Guest
David Morse
14 years 11 months ago
I think today’s poll says it all. If Wal-Mart is successful it is the other Mass Merchandisers that will lose, not department stores. Urban kids are looking for flash, for “bling” appeal, if you will. They want to show the world that they’ve got the stuff to recognize a cool outfit and to pull off wearing it. They’re looking for designer names that cost money to show they’ve got the money to spend and they don’t mind spending it. Teens are teens, and as David Zahn points out, the last thing you want to happen as a teen is to be spotted wearing a brand from Wal-Mart. As the French say, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” — The more things change, the more they stay the same. In many ways, Wal-Mart is in a catch 22. The more successful they are in branding an urban brand, the more they risk developing a brand that cool kids won’t be caught dead in. And in the world of fashion, as the cool kids go,… Read more »
David Zahn
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Growing up, one of the insults you would occasionally hear kids shout at one another was that their clothes were bought at Kmart (which would cause strenuous denials and even an occasional physical confrontation as honor had to be defended from such a slur). Now, given that the shopper is already in the Wal-Mart store for other purchases, if Wal-Mart can convert the shopper to look at “fashion” without shrieking in horror…it will be a tremendous win and the local retailers who differentiated themselves on that basis will once again take it on the chin.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Department store clothing shoppers are unlikely to be Wal-Mart clothing shoppers. The family income difference is significant and the shopping atmosphere isn’t similar, either. Clothing shoppers’ attitudes are heavily influenced by the store’s positioning, compared to brand name hard goods purchasers. Abercrombie and Fitch’s atmosphere helps position the clothing’s value. Few shoppers are influenced by a store’s atmosphere when buying a TV. The TV brand conveys the value. For clothing, the store often conveys the value.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 11 months ago

David and Ryan have two different but very valid points. Wal-Mart has to change physically, and in the minds of the
targeted shoppers.
I can just hear kids and teenagers saying
to their friends, “Yeah, I bought these new cloths at Wal-“… catching themselves, and then saying, “…through a catalog that
our family gets.”

Image, brand name, and where you buy is so important to brand
conscious young people today, and every day. Hmmmmmmmmm

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