Retail giant Walmart is aiming to compete with Amazon and Target for affordable clothing that appeals to young and fashion-conscious consumers. The company announced the launch of three new fashion brands and a complete overhaul to one of their current labels, which will all be available online and in stores for purchase.
The brands Walmart is debuting include Time and Tru, catering to women, Terra & Sky for plus-size women’s apparel, and Wonder Nation for kids. The company is also doing a major overhaul of its George apparel brand. All are set to replace older Walmart labels.
Walmart is focusing on customers’ in-store experience by remodeling parts of their stores to enhance the look of their apparel areas, including putting in new floors, removing walls, and creating more space between racks to offer a more boutique-like shopping experience. They are also overhauling their fitting rooms and lighting, to imitate higher-end stores.
There has been a steady shift in consumer shopping preferences in recent years. Sales at department stores like Macy’s and J.C. Penney have been on the decline, whereas boutiques and specialty brands, including online retailers, have been on the rise. Target saw an opportunity in this shift, and hired big-name fashion designers like Isaac Mizrahi and Elie Tahari to develop specialty clothing lines for their stores. Now, the chain is developing its own in-house brands, similar to Amazon, and both have seen increased sales with these efforts. They are currently the number two and three most popular clothing retailers behind Walmart in the U.S., and sales are growing.
According to an article in Fortune Magazine, Walmart’s new offerings will include trendier fare which is updated every three months, as well as basics like jeans and tees. Walmart is also offering new fabric types that are softer and have some stretch for more appeal.
Walmart’s online clothing sales have been struggling with competition from Amazon and Target.com. The company experienced a sharp slowdown in February, which makes the launch of their new brands more timely.
Walmart has tried to increase sales and visibility for its online stores, notably by purchasing popular online clothing brands in the last year that cater to a variety of tastes and body types, hoping to capture a more diverse and fashion-conscious market. Those brands included Bonobos, Modcloth, and Moosejaw, all with a dedicated and growing customer base. Walmart also hired a former Saks Fifth Avenue executive oversees the company’s e-commerce fashion business.
So far however, these moves haven’t translated to online sales growth for the superstore chain, but there is opportunity. While department stores languish, online brands are poised to take the lead.