Walmart (WMT)is borrowing a page from Target’s (TGT)playbook to rev up its apparel sales.
The retailer said in a blog post on Wednesday that it has lined up television star Ellen DeGeneres to launch a collection of casual clothes in September in a bid to spruce up its clothing selection. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is primarily known for basic clothing presented in a no-frills way, rather than celebrity collaborations of the kind that has made Target a major apparel destination.
The DeGeneres tie-up, called EV1 and consisting of some 60 items costing $30 or less to start, comes amid a number of moves by Walmart to be a bigger player in the world of fashion. Walmart recently added an e-commerce page to its web site for HBC’s (HBC) Lord & Taylor department store chain, as it looks to showcase higher end brands. Walmart has also bought retailers like ModCloth, Bonobos, and Moosejaw in the past two years to expand its assortment for middle class customers. EV1 items will also be sold at roughly 2,300 stores, or half its fleet.
“We’ve been hard at work transforming the fashion experience on walmart.com,” Denise Incandela, head of fashion for Walmart’s U.S. digital operations, wrote in the blog post.
In February, at a splashy event in Manhattan that coincided with Fashion Week, Walmart 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 replaced older Walmart labels Faded Glory, White Stag, and Just My Size.)
Walmart is the largest U.S. clothing retailer by a wide margin, but rivals are making gains, prompting Walmart to raise its game: a report by researcher Coresight Research in winter found Amazon and Target tied as the second-most popular clothing U.S. retailer behind Walmart. And both those chains have introduced successful new apparel brands in the last year, adding to the pressure.