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Walmart Launches Fashion Brand Free Assembly
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On Sept. 21, Walmart launched its own fashion brand Free Assembly. The private label features women’s and men’s clothing items, ranging from $9–$45. Free Assembly’s fall collection offers clothing staples that are easy to mix and match and provides a wide-selection of items made from eco-friendly materials.
Free Assembly’s in-house design team is led by Dwight Fenton, who has experience designing for brands like Bonobos (acquired by Walmart in 2017), J.Crew, and Old Navy. Walmart has worked on the fashion brand for two years and it is available online and in 250 stores across the United States.
Walmart’s Plan for Free Assembly
Walmart created Free Assembly to provide affordable, wardrobe staples that would stand the test of time. Free Assembly was designed to appeal to the majority of fashion shoppers as its items are intended to be mixed and matched. The retailer was also eco-conscious by providing a large selection of items that are sustainably made.
Fenton led the in-house design team from start-to-finish on the creation of Walmart’s private label — from brand concept to the manufacturing process. Fenton and the design team have decades of experience designing for modern American brands. In two years, the design team collectively assembled a fashion brand focused on everyday pieces.
“What’s been missing is a brand that offers modern essentials, so we set out to build that brand,” said Fenton. Free Assembly’s sustainably made, practical fashion items at a low price point could help Walmart gain a competitive edge against other retailers in the fast fashion business, such as Target and Kohls.
Walmart is positioning itself as a fashion destination and Free Assembly is its latest venture in solidifying the initiative. Unlike Amazon’s Luxury Stores rollout, Walmart is seeking to gain the large demographic of consumers who are driven by price and convenience while Amazon targets a niche market of consumers who value scarcity and craftsmanship.
Previous Bids on Apparel Industry
Free Assembly is Walmart’s latest venture to expand its target audience and grow within the apparel industry. Prior to its private label, Walmart has an existing portfolio of apparel brands in-store and online. The retailer recently doubled down on its e-commerce efforts and added more than 1,000 apparel brands to its online assortment.
In 2017, Walmart acquired Bonobos, a menswear brand. In 2019, the retailer launched Sofia Jeans by Sofia Vergara, a denim line that is exclusively sold at Walmart. In May of this year, Walmart partnered with ThredUp to expand its apparel assortment and enter the resale market. The mentioned brands are only a few of many in Walmart’s apparel portfolio.
Assortment of Clothing Items
The fall collection offers more than 30 items for women and 25 items for men. Items in the fashion brand include a $45 boyfriend blazer, a $28 chunky knit sweater, a $27 pair of skinny jeans, and more. The private label does not currently carry accessories and children’s clothing, but Walmart said it will consider expanding to those areas in the future. The retailer offers inclusive sizes, ranging from XS–XXXL.
Free Assembly is also providing a wide selection of items made from sustainable materials, such as organic cotton and Fair Trade Certified Denim. The U.S. sustainability market is expected to reach $150 billion in sales by 2021, according to Nielsen. Walmart is seeking to not only become a fashion destination but also appeal to consumers who prioritize sustainable brands and products. Walmart is leveraging eco-friendly, clothing items while maintaining a budget-friendly price point.
Walmart may succeed in gaining a greater bid in the apparel industry as it targets a larger audience with its new private label. Free Assembly, a fashion brand of staple wardrobe items below $46, may appeal to a wide range of shoppers due to its price and convenience. The sustainably made clothing selections will also draw in eco-conscious consumers.
The fashion brand may have launched at an appropriate time where shoppers are seeking comfortable and practical clothing. The ability to mix and match items may be a valuable selling point as consumers could pair items from Free Assembly with existing pieces from their closets. Walmart could see a significant rise in apparel customers.
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