Walmart is hardly known for its fashions but the discount retailer is hoping that will change at least a bit with the launch of four new house brands.
Seeing an opening in the market with the difficulties of many specialty apparel chains like J.Crew and The Gap, and a slight shift away from clothing by department stores, Walmart on Tuesday unveiled four brands: Time and Tru for women; Terra & Sky for plus-size women’s apparel; Wonder Nation for kids; and a major overhaul of its George apparel brand, imported from its British Asda chain. (The brands replace older Walmart labels Faded Glory, White Stag, and Just My Size.)
The move reflects Walmart’s bigger play for middle class shoppers with more inviting apparel beyond the basics (jeans, underwear, socks, and t-shirts) its customers have long favored, both in-store and online.
To better compete, Walmart decided it had to go beyond the basics and add style, fabric types, and better presentation to inspire shoppers rather than just displaying items on the store floor, Deanah Baker, senior vice president of apparel for Walmart U.S., told Fortune. For instance, some items in the Time and Tru line have lyocell (related to rayon) to give it a softer feel, even though that costs more than cotton. There is more embroidery in some items, and stretch in others.
“We really wanted to land in the place where we had all of the relevant trends of the season that she can mix and match into a lot of different looks,” Baker said. According to a Walmart presentation Bloomberg News obtained earlier this month, Walmart’s assortment will be 10% trendier fare and updated every three months, 40% will be “fashion basics” updated less frequently and the rest will be basic.