By  on September 10, 2007

NEW YORK — When it comes to fashion, walmart.com always has been ahead of its big sister, Wal-Mart Stores.

For last year's holiday season, walmart.com featured leather coats for $105.88 and cashmere blend coats for $99.66. Now it's testing z.b.d. designs, a collection that hits on all the current trends, from sailor-stripe sweaters to trapeze jackets.

Wal-Mart stores, meanwhile, have had some difficulty with apparel, delving too far into some trends too fast. Metro 7's distribution, as of September, was reduced from 1,500 doors to its original 500 doors. The line is said to be doing well in its intended distribution. While Wal-Mart has said it would put more of a focus on basics going forward, its recently announced exclusive deal with Iconix to carry the Ocean Pacific and Op brands is seen as an opening salvo to teens and young adults. Op is often credited with spawning the surf and beach culture.

Walmart.com always has featured higher-priced apparel and accessories than Wal-Mart stores. Jewelry pushes the price envelope even further on walmart.com. The site has sold 2-carat diamond and 18-karat white gold rings for $8,000, and Journey necklaces with a total diamond weight of 2 carats set in 14-karat white gold for $4,500. Walmart.com has said its customers have higher incomes than shoppers in Wal-Mart stores.

The 24-piece z.b.d. collection is predominantly white, black and slate blue. The styles are simple — slim-cut pants, four-pocket jackets, square-neck dresses — with attention to details such as pleating and waist interest. There are also plenty of options for this season's focal point: the sleeve, with a puff-sleeve button-down blouse for $16.88 and a gigot-sleeve mock-neck T-shirt for $16.88.

Bestsellers include a tweed swing jacket for $29.99; a square-neck silver-and-black satin leopard-print dress, $24.88, and double-knit slim-cut pants, $22.88.

"At this time, we're testing this offering only online at walmart.com," said a spokeswoman for the Web site. "We often pilot merchandise in this manner across a variety of categories on our site. We'll continue to evaluate this line of merchandise and gauge customer feedback over the coming months."

Wal-Mart's online business has been estimated at between $1 billion and $2 billion. The Web site was set up in 2000 as a stand-alone company and is based in Brisbane, Calif., far from Wal-Mart Stores' headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

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