The yet-to-be named, direct-to-consumer apparel label will come out of the big box behemoth’s brand incubator, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of the matter. (The team operates out of a WeWork near Union Square.) Like Allswell, Walmart’s direct-to-consumer mattress brand that launched in February 2018 and competes with popular online brands including Casper, the basics line will be primarily sold through its own e-commerce site. (Allswell is also available on Walmart.com, but not in-store.)
Walmart declined to comment.
Andy Dunn, founder and chief executive of men's apparel brand Bonobos, which Walmart acquired in 2017 for $310 million, is leading the charge on the project in his role as svp of digital consumer brands.
The new brand will be similar to San Francisco-based Everlane, which sells minimalist staples that start at $15 for a v-neck tee and scale up to $175 for a leather tote. However, Walmart's range will be geared more pointedly toward Gen Z and boast even lower prices. Bonobos designer Dwight Fenton is developing the line, although sources said much of the design and production will be outsourced to a third-party.
The new brand reflects the American retail giant's effort to reposition itself as a digital destination for apparel, as it attempts to attract more affluent customers and build an e-commerce presence that can compete with Amazon, which is filching market share with low prices and fast delivery.
Walmart, whose e-commerce business is led by Jet.com founder Marc Lore, has developed and acquired multiple brands that aren't actually sold at the Walmart stores — including Bonobos, ModCloth and the new lines developed within the incubator. Jet.com was acquired by Walmart in September 2016 for $3 billion. In the first three months of the 2019 fiscal year, online sales at Walmart rose 33 percent.
The company also plans to roll out a digitally native cosmetics line called CO Squared and has developed four new in-house clothing labels, which were introduced earlier in 2018 and are sold in-store at Walmart as well as online.
Rival Target, which is also trying to fend off Amazon, has developed 14 new in-house labels over the past year and a half in an effort to enhance the core brand experience. Just last week, it unveiled three new Gen-Z-geared lines: one for young women, another for young men and an electronics collection.
Walmart's strategy is more fragmented. When considering the digital consumer brands it has developed (or is currently developing) from scratch, it is important to note that Walmart has chosen to enter already-crowded markets that require spending a significant amount of marketing money on customer acquisition. It's something the company is more than willing to invest in, said one person familiar with the business. But what Walmart hasn’t yet figured out is whether consumers will return after making that first purchase.
Teenagers in particular are a tough crowd to win over, though they spend $44 billion a year on themselves and influence another $600 billion in spending by others, according to Mintel.
Stay tuned as this story develops.