Walmart is getting into the designer fashion business without the designer price tag.
The mass merchandiser, known for its bargain prices, is unveiling two clothing collections under the creative direction of New York designer Brandon Maxwell.
Maxwell, who worked as Lady Gaga’s fashion designer and whose creations are often on the racks at Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Saks, was hired last year to set the course for two Walmart private labels called Free Assembly and Scoop. Scoop launched as an exclusive brand in 2019, and Free Assembly came on board in 2020.
Now, after a year of creative tinkering, the two labels are unveiling their spring collections, which can be purchased online or in stores.
Maxwell worked with Walmart’s design team and partners on the clothing concept and marketing to give each brand its own identity while adopting current trends. “One of my goals when I started my fashion brand was to create beautiful clothing for everyone,” the 37-year-old designer and “Project Runway” judge noted. “This partnership allows me to fulfill that dream on a larger scale.”
Free Assembly is a more casual array of clothing with 500 pieces of men’s, women’s and kids’ fashions for spring that retail for $8 to $48. The collection, available in 1,000 Walmart stores, encompasses timeless and seasonless trends that include stripes, gingham, eyelet, spring fleece, color blocking and printed denim. “I wanted to exude a sense of joy, optimism and color,” Maxwell said.
The collection also offers jumpsuits, rompers, denim jackets, cotton tops, sleeveless flare dresses, cropped denim pants, double-breasted blazers and soft trench coats.
Scoop’s price tag is slightly higher, ranging from $18 to $75 for its 56 styles. The label, offered at 250 Walmart locations, is a tad more formal, incorporating bold and vibrant colors, high-energy prints and lots of denim. “They are more trend-driven than Free Assembly but still timeless,” Maxwell said in a statement.
Scoop takes its name from Scoop NYC, the legendary fashion boutique chain that sold a curated collection of contemporary labels at its 16 stores but closed in 2016. It was then re-imagined as a Walmart brand.
In the Scoop collection are faux leather moto jackets, asymmetrical midi skirts, halter-top dresses, puff-sleeve sweaters, denim jumpers, jeans in all kinds of silhouettes, color-block blazers and wide-leg ribbed crop pants.
Walmart’s modest price points are the total opposite of Maxwell’s designer fashions that range from $595 for a pair of denim pants to $8,495 for a cape gown with a drop-waist ball skirt.
Maxwell has had a varied career that began in the South. He grew up in Longview, Texas, and graduated from St. Edward’s University in Austin with a degree in photo communications.
He soon moved to New York where he styled for magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Teen Vogue. He has done ad campaigns for Barneys New York and Uniqlo, and he was tapped in 2012 to be Lady Gaga’s fashion director. In 2015 he debuted his own ready-to-wear label at New York’s celeb-haven hotspot Mr. Chow.
While continuing to work on his high-end collection, Maxwell is busy designing the summer collections for Free Assembly and Scoop.