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Walmart Aims to Capture Market Share With New Private-Label Clothing Line

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is looking to reach disaffected consumers by launching a new, private-label clothing brand called Free Assembly.

As shoppers abandon many mall-based department stores such as J.C. Penney (OTC: JCPN.Q) and Macy's (NYSE: M), the retailer is hoping to lure them in with modern styling at prices ranging from $9 to $45. The brand will be available beginning today at 250 Walmart stores and on its website.

Ad for Walmart's Free Assembly clothing line

Image source: Walmart.

Dressed for success

The project has been two years in the making and comes as Walmart has been investing more heavily in clothing. Last year it launched a jeans line by actress Sofia Vergara and jumped on the clothing subscription bandwagon by partnering with KIDBOX. The year before it acquired Eloquii, a plus-size fashion brand.

It's also made various e-commerce clothing acquisitions including Bare Necessities, Bonobos, and Modcloth. Not all of Walmart's fashion efforts have worked out -- it sold Modcloth two years after buying it -- but they follow Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) move to become the largest online retailer of apparel.

According to Euromonitor, Walmart had a 1.9% share of the online apparel market last year compared to Amazon's 50.5% share.

Free Assembly's low prices allow Walmart to go after budget-conscious consumers who fled J.C. Penney, leading to its downfall, as well as mid-tier retailers like Macy's and Kohl's (NYSE: KSS), which are also struggling to keep their customers.

Walmart has made many fashion faux pas over the years; the retailer needs to prove that basic styling can win over consumers.

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