Walmart wants to bring a bit of the high-fashion catwalk to its store aisles.
The retail giant is starting “a fashion essentials-inspired brand for both men and women created by our in-house design team,” the company said in a news release.
“Today (Sept. 21), I’m excited to introduce Free Assembly, a modern fashion brand that offers elevated style essentials at an incredible value,” said Denise Incandela, senior VP of the women’s group, elevated and online brands. “At its core, this new brand is born from thoughtful, simple design, quality fabrics, modern silhouettes and styles updated for today.”
Walmart can “give our customers more of what they want — quality, stylish and accessible fashion,” she said, pointing to the retailer’s work with thredUP. She added that “Walmart’s fashion portfolio has grown significantly over the past few years as we’ve focused on expanding our assortment. We’ve launched exclusive, elevated brands.”
On top of that, she said, the Free Assembly brand will be “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.”
The retailer is following in the footsteps of Amazon, which first took aim at the fashion industry in 2016. Taking things even further this month, Amazon brought out its new Luxury Stores after building up its apparel business over the past four years.
According to PYMNTS’ exclusive Whole Paycheck tracker, in 2016, Amazon brought in $20.5 billion in clothing and apparel sales, but more than doubled that amount to $48.3 billion in 2019.
The two retail behemoths are locked in a battle over consumers’ dollars. So far, 2020 has been better for Amazon than Walmart, with its mix of brick-and-mortar stores and online sales.
Before adding Free Assembly to its apparel offerings, Walmart last month sold off Shoes.com and its Bare Necessities brand, which offers intimate apparel. Walmart sold Shoes.com to CriticalPoint Capital, a Los Angeles merger and acquisition advisory and investment bank. The lingerie platform went to Delta Galil Industries, an Israeli manufacturer and marketer of branded and private-label apparel products for men, women and children.