Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is looking to reach disaffected consumers by launching a new, private-label clothing brand called Free Assembly.
As shoppers abandon many mall-based department stores such as J.C. Penney (OTC:JCPN.Q) and Macy's (NYSE:M), the retailer is hoping to lure them in with modern styling at prices ranging from $9 to $45. The brand will be available beginning today at 250 Walmart stores and on its website.
Dressed for success
The project has been two years in the making and comes as Walmart has been investing more heavily in clothing. Last year it launched a jeans line by actress Sofia Vergara and jumped on the clothing subscription bandwagon by partnering with KIDBOX. The year before it acquired Eloquii, a plus-size fashion brand.
It's also made various e-commerce clothing acquisitions including Bare Necessities, Bonobos, and Modcloth. Not all of Walmart's fashion efforts have worked out -- it sold Modcloth two years after buying it -- but they follow Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) move to become the largest online retailer of apparel.
According to Euromonitor, Walmart had a 1.9% share of the online apparel market last year compared to Amazon's 50.5% share.
Free Assembly's low prices allow Walmart to go after budget-conscious consumers who fled J.C. Penney, leading to its downfall, as well as mid-tier retailers like Macy's and Kohl's (NYSE:KSS), which are also struggling to keep their customers.
Walmart has made many fashion faux pas over the years; the retailer needs to prove that basic styling can win over consumers.