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.
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.
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.
Retailers wake up to opportunity in plus-size clothing
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