Walmart taps Brandon Maxwell to oversee Free Assembly, Scoop

Dive Brief:

  • Walmart is elevating its fashion reputation. The retailer announced that it named acclaimed fashion designer Brandon Maxwell as creative director for Free Assembly and Scoop — the first collaboration of its kind for Walmart, according to a press release Tuesday.

  • Maxwell, who founded his own luxury label and was a judge on TV show "Project Runway," has had A-list celebrities including Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama and Oprah wear his designs. He was born and raised in Longview, Texas, where he said Walmart was commonly regarded as a clothing destination, per the release.

  • At Walmart, he will be in charge of the collection design and will have input into material selection. Maxwell will also be involved in marketing initiatives and campaigns for both of Walmart's private brands, the release said.

Dive Insight:

Walmart, widely known for its affordable prices, is trying its hand in high fashion. Though for years, it has steadily expanded its clothing selection through brand partnerships, acquisitions and revitalization. In recent years, Walmart acquired a selection of apparel brands, including DTC plus-sized brand Eloquii, outdoor gear and apparel brand Moosejaw, Bonobos and ModCloth. (The retailer would go on to sell the ModCloth brand to financial services firm Go Global Retail in 2019.) Walmart revived Scoop as a private line in 2019, three years after it closed all its stores across the country. Last September, Walmart launched Free Assembly — an apparel brand developed by Old Navy and J. Crew alum Dwight Fenton.

As the retailer produces more private apparel brands and initiates more acquisitions, Walmart's goal with the Maxwell partnership may be to establish its name as a serious fashion destination. Through the Walmart partnership, Maxwell said he's able to give people access to well-made clothing at an affordable price referencing his experience as a child playing under the clothing racks as the place he started his fashion journey, according to the release. "This partnership allows me to bring the experience and joy of fashion to countless people who live in small towns across the country," Maxwell said in a statement. "Everyone deserves to have access to well-designed clothing at an accessible price point."

He will be responsible for overseeing four seasonal collections at Free Assembly and Scoop every year, starting with the Holiday 2021 drop, according to the release. The statement said his full collection will be released in Spring 2022. In addition, Maxwell also teamed up with Walmart to design a face mask line sold exclusively at Walmart beginning Tuesday.

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