Walmart launches free assembly brand in attempt to expand fashion – Footwear News



In recent years, Walmart has increased its arsenal of fashion brands in an effort to compete more strongly in the style space and grab a bigger slice of consumer wallets. Today, the big box giant is doubling that goal with the launch of a new brand for men and women – developed by an in-house team of designers led by former Bonobos manager Dwight Fenton.

In a statement, the Bentonville, Ark.-Based company announced the launch of Free Assembly, touted as a “modern fashion brand that offers high style essentials at an incredible price.” The fall line includes over 30 items for women and 25 pieces for men, each priced between $ 9 and $ 45.

“With our continued strategy to expand our assortment for our customers, we have shown that we are serious about establishing Walmart as a fashion destination,” said Denise Incandela, Senior Vice President of Women’s Group from Walmart, High Brands and Online. “With Free Assembly, we had a vision to create a new kind of brand that would appeal to any fashion buyer.”

According to Walmart, the collection has been in the works for two years. Together with Fenton, a team of male and female designers, technical designers and product managers developed the brand concept, sketched out the designs, hand-selected fabrics in factories and finalized the details of each garment, from the threading and buttons to cuts, cuts and washes.

In addition to Free Assembly, the retailer also owns Sofia Vergara’s denim-focused Sofia jeans, as well as Scoop, a once-defunct brand that Walmart relaunched last year.

“I have been at the forefront of the transformation underway in Walmart’s fashion industry,” said Fenton, who also has experience designing brands like J.Crew and Old Navy. “What was missing is a brand that offers modern essentials, so we decided to build that brand.”

Walmart, however, had faced challenges in its fashion push: for example, three years ago it bought out Shoebuy (now for around $ 70 million, bought ModCloth for $ 50 million. dollars and acquired Bonobos in a $ 310 million deal. But in late August, it was revealed that the chain was planning to sell to subsidiaries of private equity firm CriticalPoint Capital. Last fall, he agreed to divest ModCloth to branded investment firm Go Global Retail, while some reports have suggested the bonobos are still not profitable for the retailer.

With Free Assembly, Walmart continues to bolster its most successful private label businesses, which tend to attract a more budget-conscious consumer, with prices remaining below the $ 50 mark.

“Free Assembly complements our portfolio of elevated brands to provide customers with incredible market value among the modern clothing brands available today,” Incandela added. “I am convinced that this new brand will quickly become an essential part of their daily wardrobe. “


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