Will Walmart’s new private clothing line have ‘staying power’?
Will a new more upscale men’s and women’s private clothing label help elevate Walmart’s fashion sales? That’s the question after the retailer announced the launch of Free Assembly, a new 55-piece line offering “high-quality pieces” at prices between $9 and $45.
The new brand, according to a blog post by Denise Incandela, SVP of women’s group, elevated and online brands for the retailer, was created by Walmart’s in-house design team. The line will be available in 250 select Walmart stores and on walmart.com.
“At its core, this new brand is born from thoughtful, simple design, quality fabrics, modern silhouettes and styles updated for today,” Ms. Incandela wrote. “It’s as timeless as it is versatile, with wardrobe staples that are easy to mix, layer and assemble freely. These are pieces designed to have staying power.”
Fresh Assembly is part of a concerted effort by Walmart to raise the profile of its apparel and accessories business in recent years. The retailer has added more than 1,000 apparel brands to its online selection, launched exclusive brands such as EV1 from Ellen Degeneres, Scoop and Sofia Jeans by Sofia Vergara. It has also partnered with thredUP to offer previously owned fashion merchandise at a fraction of the original prices.
Ms. Incandela praised the work of Walmart’s in-house design team, which designed the Free Assembly line. The team is led by Dwight Fenton, whose previous design experience included work with Bonobos, J.Crew and Old Navy.
“There’s really nothing else like it on the market,” said Mr. Fenton about Free Assembly. “We’ve created something familiar enough that anyone can see themselves in the clothing, but unique enough that it has a twist and is intriguing. And, when you consider the style and quality we’re offering for the price point, Free Assembly is truly unmatched in the industry. In fact, I don’t think there’s been a great new modern brand offering this level of quality for such incredible prices — and at this scale — since the mid-1990s.”
Brett Briggs, Walmart chief financial officer, told attendees of Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference earlier this month that expanding its inventory and selling more apparel and home goods products on walmart.com has helped boost the retailer’s profit margins.
- Introducing Free Assembly: A Modern Fashion Brand for Women and Men, Found Only at Walmart – Walmart
- Get to Know Dwight Fenton, Our Brand Builder in the Making – Walmart
- Walmart Inc. (WMT) Management Presents at Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference (Transcript) – Seeking Alpha
- Is Walmart about to become the king of online resale retailing? – RetailWire
- Will Walmart become a fashion destination in 2020? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Walmart’s Free Assembly line be a hit? Do you think the retailer’s moves in apparel are helping to improve its fashion image? Will this lead to higher sales and market share?