According to reports in Business of Fashion, Walmart is quietly looking to launch a direct-to-consumer clothing line to appeal to Gen Z consumers. In a similar vein to Allswell, Walmart’s direct-to-consumer mattress brand that launched earlier this year, the clothing line will be sold through Walmart’s online portal, but not in its retail stores.
The reports further indicate that Walmart’s in-house answer to Everlane is largely being pushed by Bonobos Founder and Walmart SVP of Digital Commerce Brands Andy Dunn. Bonobos was acquired by Walmart in 2017 for $310 million.
Among items apparently under consideration for sale will be a bit more upscale than Walmart’s normal offerings – think $175 for a leather tote alongside $15 v-neck T-shirts. But, being Walmart, the pricing will skew somewhat lower than Everlane’s does on similar merchandise, and is more directed at younger consumers, namely Gen Z.
Bonobos designer Dwight Fenton is reportedly developing the line in part, though it seems most design and production will be a third-party affair.
The move is in step with recent directional plays by the Walmart digital team, as the biggest retailer in the world by sales has been on something of an investing and acquisition spree of late, particularly for digital brands that aren’t migrating to Walmart’s shelves. Bonobos and ModCloth are the two primary examples, as are new lines being developed within Jet.com’s incubator. And while retail represents a big expansion play, it isn’t the only one slated. Walmart is also planning to push a digitally native cosmetics line called Co Squared.
The challenge, of course, is what it always is: The markets that Walmart is trying to conquer, which include shoppers looking to spend a bit more for higher quality and style (not Walmart’s standard MO for an apparel shopper) and teenagers. Teens spend a fair amount on clothes – about $44 billion a year – and influence a stunning amount of clothing purchases from their position of expertise on all things cool (about $600 billion).