Walmart expands fashion focus with new private label clothing line

Marianne Wilson
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Walmart has made another move to boost its fashion credibility and expand its portfolio of exclusive brands. 

The discounter is launching Free Assembly, which it described as a “modern fashion brand that offers elevated style essentials at an incredible value.” The brand, two years in the making and available in 250 stores and online, includes more than 30 items for women and 25 items for men, all priced between $9 and $45. 

“With Free Assembly, we have a vision to create a new kind of brand that would entice any fashion shopper,” said Denise Incandela, senior VP women’s group, elevated and online brands, Walmart. “So, we’ve built an in-house fashion design team with decades of experience designing for modern American brands known for mass appeal.” 

The design team for Free Assembly was led by Dwight Fenton, former chief creative office of menswear brand Bonobos, which Walmart acquired in 2017. His resume also includes stints at J. Crew, Vineyard Vines and Old Navy. 

“When I was approached to join Free Assembly, I was intrigued by Walmart’s size and scale – it’s unlike any other place I’ve worked,” Fenton said in a post on Walmart’s website. “The company’s reach is such a powerful platform for change. And, I was excited about the opportunity to bring a new brand to market through a different lens for the Walmart customer, all while holding true to style and quality at an accessible price point.”

The new brand follows other recent moves by Walmart to enhance its fashion reputation. In recent years, in addition to acquiring established brands such as Bonobos and the plus-sized Eloquii, it has partnered with celebrities, including Sofia Vergara and Ellen DeGeneres, on exclusive fashion lines. In May, Walmart entered the fast-growing via an online partnership with ThredUp, a resale platform for fashion and accessories.

In all, the chain has added more than 1,000 apparel brands to its online assortment, according to Incandela. 

“Through our ongoing strategy of expanding our assortment for our customers, we’ve shown that we’re serious about establishing Walmart as a fashion destination,” she said. “And, now we’re doubling-down to offer customers something they couldn’t find at Walmart before – a fashion essentials-inspired brand for both men and women created by our in-house design team.”