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Walmart is incubating an Everlane-like private-label brand—should Everlane worry?

What happened

  • Walmart’s new brand is allegedly inspired by Everlane—the minimalist “essentials” brand for women’s apparel and accessories—but will aim to reel in younger, Gen-Z customers while offering items at a lower price point. The venture stems from Walmart’s brand incubator, Store No. 8, and will retail on Walmart.com—not in stores.

Why it matters

  • The new apparel brand is the latest in Walmart’s growing collection of private labels, including the direct-to-consumer mattress brand Allswell, which launched in February 2018, and the soon-to-come beauty brand CO Squared. These private-label ventures are meant to help Walmart stand out against other mass retailers, but they also raise sophistication for the brand and reach younger, trend-driven consumers. Specifically in the apparel space, Walmart maintains its position as top U.S. apparel retailer, but is facing rising competition from Amazon and Target, both of which are pouring massive resources into growing their own private-label apparel brands.
  • Allswell was in part a response to the rise of digitally-native basics vendors like Casper, which attracted younger ecommerce-savvy consumers with modern aesthetics and marketing. But as the mass retailer revs up its ecommerce efforts—it also redesigned its site in April 2018 to feature higher-end brands—it could expose what companies like Casper really sell: commodities with magnified prices, especially relative to Walmart. In the same vein, Everlane is already an abstraction of a private-label basics brand—meaning that Walmart’s copycat would be an abstraction of an abstraction. Still, it would rightly steer Walmart back to what it’s meant to peddle in the first place: basics. Even if recursive, as long as Walmart’s brand is high-enough quality at a low-enough price, the Everlane-inspired brand will influence the mass retailer positively.

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