There’s a new destination for affordable selvedge jeans denim, and it’s probably where denim heads would least expect it: Walmart.
Last week, the big-box store introduced Free Assembly, a denim-centric apparel brand created by its in-house design team. Led by Dwight Fenton, the former chief creative and design officer for Bonobos and the former senior design director of J.Crew, the dual-gender brand centers around wardrobe staples that can be worn season after season.
“We’ve created something familiar enough that anyone can see themselves in the clothing, but unique enough that it has a twist and is intriguing,” Fenton stated on the brand’s website.
Utility shirts, tees, Henley shirts, flannel shirts, quilted vests and chinos are among the versatile items in the men’s collection. Denim staples include a button-down jean shirt and jeans with athletic, straight and straight-slim fits. While most men’s jeans retail for $27, the men’s organic cotton selvedge slim jeans top out at $40.
Selvedge denim is traditionally more expensive because the fabric comes on a 32-inch roll versus the standard, which is a 62-inch roll. Though a spokesperson for the company was unable to share details on its supply chain partners, they noted that it’s Walmart’s scale that makes it possible to offer such affordably priced selvedge.
The women’s collection offers casual pieces with a nod to utility—a look popularized by millennial-centric brands like Madewell and Target’s Universal Thread label. The collection spans everything from floral print dresses, boyfriend blazers and oversized knits, to workwear-inspired pieces like a jean barn jacket and a corduroy chore jacket.
The women’s denim collection offers on-trend fits like retro flare, bootcut, cropped bootcut, ’90s straight and high-rise skinny.
According to the spokesperson, denim was a top consideration when designing the range.
“As a collection of modern, elevated essentials, Free Assembly wouldn’t be complete without a strong denim assortment,” the spokesperson told Rivet. “Now, more than ever, comfortable, familiar pieces are what our customer is wearing and denim is the quintessential fabric for lived-in, go-to style.”
Aware of its scale—and the responsibility that comes with it—the team developed the collection with sustainability in mind. The denim line is made almost entirely from organic cotton, washed using low-water-impact techniques and produced in LEED-certified and Fair Trade-certified facilities.
Free Assembly is just one part of Walmart’s strategy to become a fashion destination.
The retail giant’s sartorial journey began in 2017 when it acquired men’s brand Bonobos and women’s brand ModCloth. Last year, Walmart revived Scoop, the shuttered New York City chain of boutiques known for stocking ‘It’ items. Scoop now serves as Walmart’s trend-oriented house brand.
And denim remains a key product category. Earlier this year, Walmart introduced a collection by Jordache that riffed on some of the brand’s most iconic jeans styles and graphic tees. The retailer also recently introduced the latest fall collection of Sofia Jeans, a size-inclusive denim brand by actress Sofia Vergara.
Free Assembly’s fall collection, which includes more than 30 items for women and 25 pieces for men, is now available on the Walmart website and in stores, and retails for $9 to $45.