NEW YORK — Wal-Mart is gunning for a bigger slice of apparel.
Having successfully introduced Metro 7, a trend-driven contemporary women’s brand, and returned George to its modern, classic roots, the retail giant has big plans to build on those initiatives. They include:
The possibility of other new apparel brands, which could involve celebrity spokesmen or an established designer.
A repositioned No Boundaries brand in the junior category, which will hit Wal-Mart stores for back-to-school.
An evaluation of other apparel brands that might be in need of a fix.
The launch of an urban-inspired brand for men in July.
“You’ll see new concepts on a regular basis from us,” promised Karen Stuckey, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Wal-Mart product development for apparel, home, hardlines and specialty.
Asked whether Wal-Mart would go the celebrity route or work with an established designer, Stuckey replied: “It’s a very big trend [celebrities with fashion collections]. We’ve watched that evolve carefully. If and when we play in that arena, we’ll do it in a way that’s relevant to our customers. In terms of a designer, spokesperson or celebrity, we’re more apt to go the designer route because it’s more relevant. Stay tuned.”
Wall Street analysts have complained for years about Wal-Mart’s fashion offerings and the opportunity being missed. According to retail analysts, the softlines and domestics categories at Wal-Mart discount stores accounted for about $50 billion, or 17.5 percent, of the company’s total sales of $285 billion last year.
Wal-Mart clearly is trying to correct its fashion lapses. Stuckey said that Metro 7 has given Wal-Mart the validation it needs to move on in the fashion arena.
The retailer declined to give sales figures for Metro 7, but vendor sources estimate the brand could do $200 million, even with limited distribution, in its first 12 months. At a Merrill Lynch Retailing Leaders Conference here last week, Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and ceo of Wal-Mart Stores USA, said Metro 7 was so successful the company had to slow down its distribution. The plan now is to have it in 1,000 stores by April 1 and 1,500 this fall.
Issa Rae stopped by WWD's NYC headquarters to talk about season two of "Insecure," which premieres this Sunday on HBO. Click link in bio for all the details. #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery; Styled by @mayteallende)
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"