BENTONVILLE, United States — Walmart Inc’s quest to go upmarket has now taken the red-state retailer to the streets of Manhattan.
The company has revived the defunct Scoop label and will position it as a private fashion brand, Walmart’s online fashion chief Denise Incandela said in a statement Monday. Walmart’s website and some stores will carry more than 100 items including tops, shoes and handbags priced from $15 to $65. Scoop’s co-founder Stefani Greenfield, who launched the business in 1996, is involved in the brand’s development.
The move is Walmart’s latest attempt to spiff up its dowdy fashion business, which delivers higher profit margins than food and everyday staples but has never really caught fire. Scoop, which became a fashion destination during its heyday in the 2000s, could lend some much-needed pizzazz to Walmart’s aisles.
“Long considered a pioneer in boutique shopping, Scoop was beloved by fashionistas and celebrities on the hunt for up-and-coming designers or that perfect piece to complete their look,” said Incandela, a veteran of Ralph Lauren who joined Walmart in 2017.
The company’s fashion push has included swapping out stale store brands for new ones, acquiring start-ups like Bonobos and Eloquii, and last year’s partnership with department-store chain Lord & Taylor.
Not all of the moves have hit the mark. ModCloth, an online fashion site tailored to young women that Walmart acquired in 2017, was recently put on the block. Apparel sales were soft last quarter, which Walmart chalked up to unfavourable weather, and its finance chief has said the company is working “with a great sense of urgency” to boost sales of apparel online.
Scoop’s styles — which include certified vegan leather and metal studs — represent a departure for Walmart. In an era before Instagram, the brand developed a loyal following by promoting then-nascent labels like Rag & Bone and Stella McCartney, billing itself as “The Ultimate Closet.” Television shows like “Sex and the City” popularised the “Scoop Girl silhouette,” which was a flirty top and stiletto heels. Even Scoop’s shopping bags became a hot commodity.
In 2007, Ron Burkle’s private-equity firm Yucaipa Companies acquired the brand, but the business was soon hit by a pullback in spending after the financial crisis, while brands it helped establish, like Rag & Bone, became rivals by opening their own shops. In 2016, Scoop closed its remaining 15 stores and Walmart acquired the trademark not long after.
The Scoop collaboration isn’t the first time Walmart has tried to appeal to fashion-conscious shoppers. The retailer once had a trend-spotting office in Manhattan and bought ads in Vogue magazine in 2005 for its urban-themed Metro 7 line, but couldn’t convince its shoppers to buy the edgier items. The retailer closed its New York office in 2011 amid a revolving door of fashion executives.
By Matthew Boyle; editors: Crayton Harrison, Jonathan Roeder, Anne Riley Moffat.