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Walmart rolls out new apparel brands for women, kids and plus sizes

Walmart is rolling out a handful of new apparel brands at low prices and will phase out some of its older brands as a result, a source familiar with those plans confirmed to CNBC.

The revamped clothing lines will include Time and Tru for women, Terra & Sky for plus sizes and Wonder Nation for kids, said the source, who requested anonymity because the information has not yet been released by the company.

The existing brand known as George, which Walmart incorporated from its British unit Asda, will be reconfigured to sell only items for men.

Current labels such as Faded Glory, White Stag and Just My Size will be pulled from shelves. Some of those items will still be available online, though.

Bloomberg first reported the news Friday morning.

As it announced late last year, Walmart is also redesigning its website with a focus on home goods and fashion, which will include merchandise from Hudson's Bay-owned Lord & Taylor. The department store chain's flagship shop on Walmart.com is set to be unveiled later this spring.

Competition in the apparel industry is growing more intense, particularly among Walmart, Target and Amazon.

Target has been investing heavily in its private-label brands and within the past year has launched A New Day for women, JoyLab for athletic apparel, Goodfellow & Co. for men and Universal Thread for denim.

Amazon has been doing more of the same, albeit quietly, though most of its success in fashion thus far stems from selling basic items, such as underwear and t-shirts. A new report from Coresight Research (formerly Fung Global Retail & Technology) found that the e-commerce behemoth is increasingly a force to be reckoned with in the apparel industry and is stealing share from Target, Macy's and J.C. Penney.

In acquiring Modcloth, Bonobos and Moosejaw, Walmart has started to accumulate a house of established apparel brands under its name. Now it's looking to refresh its own suite of labels to accompany them.

Items from Time and Tru, Terra & Sky and Wonder Nation are already available online.

Walmart is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

Sours: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/16/walmart-rolls-out-new-apparel-brands-for-women-kids-and-plus-sizes.html

Walmart is acquiring a plus-size store with a cult following — and some customers are furious

  • Walmart announced it is acquiring women's plus-size retailer Eloquii on Tuesday. 
  • Eloquii fans have taken to social media to show their disdain and said that they will no longer shop the brand.
  • Walmart experienced a similar backlash after it acquired trendy startups Bonobos and ModCloth last year. 

Walmart just announced it's buying a trendy plus-size retailer, but some shoppers aren't too happy about it.

On Tuesday morning, Eloquii, a women's fashion brand that is targeted at plus-size shoppers, became the latest retailer to join Walmart's empire.

It joins a collection of trendy brands such as Bonobos and ModCloth that have recently been acquired by Walmart as it attempts to broaden its fashion assortment and reach a new customer base. 

Walmart did not disclose how much it will pay for Eloquii, but sources familiar with the matter told Recode that the purchase price was $100 million. 

Eloquii was founded in 2011 as part of The Limited but relaunched online as an independent brand in 2014. Since then, it has opened five stores across the United States and has doubled sales every year, reaching around $80 million for fiscal 2017, according to MarketWatch.

Eloquii has become one of the leading players in a market that is known for being underserved. Women's plus-size apparel generates $21.4 billion in annual sales in the US and is growing faster than the country's overall apparel market, according to the NPD Group. However, plus-size shoppers frequently criticize many of the US' national retailers for not offering a wider range of sizes. 

Eloquii has gained a cult following by offering on-trend, fast-fashion clothing. 

On Tuesday, some fans took to social media to show their disdain for the new deal, arguing that Eloquii's values are at odds with Walmart's. Some specifically criticized Walmart's history of paying workers low wages. In January, Walmart made headlines when it raised its minimum wage to $11 per hour.

Walmart experienced a similar backlash after it announced it would be acquiring ModCloth in 2017. 

"#modcloth died today. It killed itself. Death by #walmart," one person wrote on Twitter at the time. 

"I will not support [Walmart] as they are a horrible company that I have not shopped at because of their practices," another customer wrote on ModCloth's Facebook page in May 2017. "You were inclusive, unique and independent. You are selling out to a company that has policies to keep their employees on government assistance. I will not support them."

While ModCloth and Bonobos have not revealed sales numbers, management told Quartz that sales and traffic to their sites have increased since they were acquired by Walmart.

And not everyone was outraged by the Eloquii deal. 

 

Sours: https://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-acquires-eloquii-infuriating-some-customers-2018-10
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Walmart to acquire women’s plus-size clothing brand ELOQUII

Walmart is expanding further into apparel with today’s announcement of its plans to acquire the digitally native, women’s plus-size clothing brand ELOQUII for an undisclosed amount. The all-cash deal includes ELOQUII CEO Mariah Chase, her executive team and its 100 employees, who will continue to be based in Long Island City, NY and Columbus, OH. They’ll join Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce organization, reporting to Andy Dunn, SVP of Digital Consumer Brands, Walmart U.S. eCommerce, when the deal closes later this year.

Walmart won’t disclose the deal size, but says it’s larger than its ModCloth acquisition ($75M) but smaller than Bonobos ($310M). That’s in line with Recode’s report claiming the deal is $100 million.

Women’s plus-size fashion is of interest to Walmart because it’s one of the fastest-growing segments of women’s apparel, and an estimated $21 billion market, the retailer explains. More than half of U.S. women ages 18-65 now wear a size 14 or higher, but traditional fashion brands often overlook their needs by limiting clothing options, or failing to address fit.

ELOQUII was founded in 2011 and then relaunched in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer brand catering to this market. Since 2015, the company has seen 3x revenue growth and has achieved a Net Promoter score of near 80.

Beyond simply having the means to address this market with more inventory, ELOQUII is another means for the retailer to reach a segment of online consumers who perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise considered shopping Walmart. This is a similar strategy Walmart made when snatching up other fashion brands, including Bonobos and ModCloth, for example. In fact, Bonobos and ModCloth shoppers were so anti-Walmart in some cases, there was a backlash following their acquisitions.

ELOQUII has grown its online profile thanks to savvy internet marketing and high-profile relationships, like the one with Reese Witherspoon, who partnered on a plus-size collection from her clothing line Draper James. The retailer also tapped other brands like Stone Fox Bridal and Jason Wu – the latter designer who’s a fav of celebs like Karlie Kloss, Diane Kruger, and Lily Aldridge.

It has also listened to and promptly responded to customer feedback as it grew.

“Addressing customers’ vocal requests for fashion-forward styles is something ELOQUII does incredibly well,” notes Dunn, in a blog post about the deal. “For example, they recently uncovered 80% of ELOQUII customers work full-time, and one of the most frequent requests from customers was for fashionable work wear. Embracing the feedback, ELOQUII launched The 9-5 Kit and most recently The Premier Workwear Kit, filling an unmet need in the category and further reinforcing trust with customers in the process,” he says.

Walmart has picked up a number of brands to help it expand its reach and inventory in recent years, including Moosejaw ($51M), ShoeBuy, Jet.com ($3B), Hayneedle, in addition to Bonobos and ModCloth. Most continue to offer their own online stores, though Moosejaw just became the first acquisition to open its own storefront right on Walmart’s site. It also introduced its own Allswell home and bedding digital brand.

The retailer says the ELOQUII deal is expected to close later this quarter. The brand has raised $21 million to date, according to Crunchbase data, from investors including Acton Capital Partners, Greycroft, Grace Beauty Capital, Female Founders Fund, Fabrice Grinda, FJ Labs, Max Ventures, and HDS Capital. However, ELOQUII has actually raised more than that – $42 million, according to Recode.

Sours: https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/02/walmart-to-acquire-womens-plus-size-clothing-brand-eloquii/

Retailers wake up to opportunity in plus-size clothing

More than half of US women ages 18 to 65 wear a size 14 or higher, according to statistics cited by Walmart. Analysts expect that number to grow.
Yet extended sizes represent less than a fifth of women's overall clothing sales, retail think tank Coresight Research estimated in a report earlier this year.
Top retailers are racing to strengthen their selection to capture new shoppers and meet increasing demand for trendy women's clothing in a broader range of sizes.
For example, Walmart (WMT) bought plus-size clothing brand Eloquii last week. Eloquii makes clothes exclusively for women sizes 14 and above. The move was Walmart's latest move into the plus-size industry: The company launched Terra & Sky, a private label brand, earlier this year. And Modcloth, the startup Walmart bought last year, sells extended sizes.
Other companies have taken mixed approaches to bolster their plus-size assortment.
Old Navy announced a "Size YES" campaign and will bring its formerly online-only plus collection to 75 stores. J Crew is partnering with Universal Standard for expanded sizes on a fall and winter collection.
Nordstrom (JWN) is trying to eliminate gaps in sizes by adding more 14, 16 and 18 choices at 30 stores, with 100 brands. It's also adding more signs in stores that highlight the options and featuring a broader range of mannequins.
Target (TGT) and Kohl's (KSS) have focused on their plus-size private labels. Kohl's said would launch EVRI — a "relevant fashion wear" brand — and sell Nike Plus, both debuting in the spring.
"Brands and retailers are now seeing plus-size as a significant growth opportunity," said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. "What was once a specialist segment is now becoming mainstream."
Walmart bought Eloquii last week for a reported $100 millon.
For years, brands, fashion designers, and retailers have failed to offer fashionable plus-size styles, analysts say.
Choices have been mostly limited to oversized tops and dresses and stretchy leggings. "Things that cover rather than highlight and flaunt," said Elizabeth Shobert, director of marketing and digital strategy at fashion analytics company StyleSage.
Stores marginalized shoppers searching for extended sizes by displaying a sparse assortment in separate sections at the back or on higher floors. Many high-end designer brands have been unwilling to make clothes in extended sizes. Shoppers have had to rely on specialty stores like Lane Bryant and Catherines to find variety and innovative clothes.
"This customer was not thought about. She was not recognized," said Eloquii CEO Mariah Chase. "The options that were given to her were subpar and a sea of sameness. There was a fear among retailers of taking real risks in terms of design and fit."
Eloquii was founded in 2011 by The Limited. In 2013, The Limited shut it down, but the brand quickly relaunched as an independent direct-to-consumer online seller.
Riding a loyal customer base eager for contemporary looks, Eloquii's sales have tripled since 2015 with a mix of tailored basic and on-trend dresses, tops, pants, jackets, and lingerie.
"Our goal was to wake up an industry that was not being inclusive of a customer that wanted to buy fashion," Chase said. Eloquii has recently launched a workwear line and is collaborating with designer Jason Wu on a fall collection.
Eloquii's sales have tripled since 2015.
While retailers have poured money into research and technology to stay ahead of trends in so-called standard sizes, they have often lacked creativity in introducing plus-size clothing.
Shobert said many brands have struggled to answer basic questions with their extended sizes: Do you price a size 24 the same as a 2? Where do you put the clothes in the store and online?
Producing the right fit has also been problematic. When making an item of clothing, retailers usually take an average size and scale the dimensions up and down. But that has led to poor-fitting clothing in extended sizes.
"You have to have the right kind of talent, design, and product development that have worked with plus sizes and understand some of these specific challenges," Shobert added. "Some companies haven't necessarily had that."
Higher manufacturing costs have held back the plus-size segment, too. More fabric is used when producing extended sizes and additional design and fabrication expenses can come into play during the process, according to Saunders from GlobalData Retail.
"If the volume isn't there, then it is hard to make the business model work," he said.
The success of mid-priced, plus-size online retailers like Eloquii, Evli, Torrid, Gwynnie Bee and Dia & Co. have forced big brands and retailers to renew their attention on the industry.
Online shopping opened up new opportunities for both sellers and customers: Brands previously hesitant to showcase their plus sizes on store floors could easily offer them on their websites, said Jane Hali, a retail analyst for Jane Hali & Associates who has been following the industry since the 1980s.
"There is a feeling of embarrassment having to shop for clothes in a separate store or department," she said. "Plus-size consumers prefer to shop a retailer's core offer rather than a specific plus-size sub-brand."
Under pressure to grow, retailers have reacted to shoppers who demanded more authentic-looking advertising. They're also responding to the rise of social media influences like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham, and body-inclusivity movements like #EffYourBeautyStandards.
"Women who wear plus sizes have been vocal in recent years, particularly on social media, about their desire to buy fashionable, trendy clothes in the same fabrics and styles as offered in so-called straight sizes," Deborah Weinswig, founder and chief executive of Coresight Research, said in areport.
Eloquii's Chase noted that the "power dynamic has been upended" between brands and women who want more inclusive sizes. "This customer said, 'Why aren't you serving me?'"
Sours: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/13/business/walmart-eloquii-plus-size-clothing/index.html

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