Walmart Doubles Down on Fashion

Walmart Inc. (WMT), the world's largest retailer, is pushing ahead with its goal to become a "destination for apparel" as it hedges against the growing dominance of rivals Inc. (AMZN) and Target Corp. (TGT) with new exclusive products. (See also: Why Walmart's Stock Can Rise 35%.)

The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain has confirmed that it has rolled out four additional private-label brands, following other retail giants who have doubled down on fashion in the recent months. Online apparel sales are expected to boom to $94 billion by 2021, making it a highly attractive segment for retailers as they focus on digital growth. 

Walmart's new lines include its first kids brand, Wonder Nation; a new women's line, Time and Tru; a plus-sized women's brand, Terra & Sky; and a revamped brand called George, now focused solely on men. The brands should help Walmart appeal to more affluent and fashion-conscious shoppers. In its stores, Walmart will also be "making improvements to its apparel departments to help customers find style inspiration and shop new looks." The company will introduce new signage for brands, upgrade apparel displays, refurbish fitting rooms and remodel some stores to make open floor plans. 

Outfitting the Fashionable Masses

"We have 150 million Americans who shop Walmart every single week," said Walmart's senior vice president of apparel, Deanah Baker, as reported by USA Today. "We're committed to being a destination for on-trend, quality fashion and basics for a broad range of customers." Baker added that while Walmart grew to prominence due to its wide array of affordable products, including clothing, it has yet to earn the fashion cachet of rivals such as Target.

Last February, Target announced plans to launch more than a dozen private-label brands as part of a $7 billion-dollar three-year investment. The company has also teamed up with fashion icons such as Victoria Beckham to promote its products. 

E-commerce and cloud computing behemoth Amazon has also worked on beefing up its line of private brands with lines such as Lark & Ro for women and GoodThreads for men. Last year, the retailer started testing a new service called Prime Wardrobe, with the goal of boosting fashion sales by giving shoppers one week to try out clothes at home before purchasing. (See also: Home Decor Wars: Walmart Takes on Target.)

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