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Belk and Foot Locker Debut Private-Label Apparel Lines

Private-label brands are becoming the secret sauce for retail loyalty, offering chains healthier margins and act as a testing ground for new ideas.

LCKR by Foot Locker

Foot Locker announced on Monday the upcoming launch of LCKR by Foot Locker. Merging sneaker and sport culture for a line of casual duds, the range complements the athletic retailer’s assortment of sneakers, clothing and accessories from brands including Nike and Adidas.

LCKR will debut on Wednesday with an introductory line of pullover hoodies and tapered sweatpants, zip-up hoodies, cargo pants and matching track jacket and pant sets. Neutral color ways like heather grey, white and black will be complemented by seasonal hues including dusty rose, forest green, blue, brown and deep red. Available in men’s sizes S-XXL, the line will retail for $40-$75 on footlocker.com and in Foot Locker stores. Additional drops will take place throughout the end of the year and into 2022, when the LCKR brand is slated to launch in Canada.

Foot Locker is focused on growing its assortment to meet the evolving demands of its shoppers, Bryon Milburn, the company’s senior vice president and general manager said. “Today, we’re seeing the need for comfort and the acceptance of casual wear in more places than ever before,” he said. “With LCKR, we have developed an elevated basics line that gives our customers a diverse way to complement their personal styles at a great value.”

In recent seasons, the retailer has introduced capsule collections created with emerging designers and streetwear heavyweights like Melody Ehsani (who became Foot Locker’s creative director earlier this year) and Just Don founder Don Crawley, professionally known as Don C. When its Compton store opened last fall, Foot Locker debuted several capsules from “homegrown” local designers, including Depaz, Ugly Primo and Dreamhaus. Viva La Bonita, founded by L.A. native Rachel Gomez, went on to secure a national deal with the sportswear retailer following her line’s Compton debut.

Milburn said LCKR represents the “latest iteration of a premium, trend-forward collection that is powering the controlled brand strategy at Foot Locker.” To drum up buzz around the launch, the company tapped Atlanta rapper and activist Gunna, a longtime brand collaborator who will serve as the face of LCKR’s first drop. Musician Tone Smith, actress Paigion Walker and on-air host Eutel Wallace will also appear in the line’s debut campaign.

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Belk’s Wonderly womenswear line

Meanwhile, Belk on Monday replaced its New Directions in-house brand with a new women’s wear line called Wonderly. Merging comfort and style, the collection spans sizes 4-26, along with petite curation in sizes 4-16.

Belk's Wonderly range of womenswear launched with fall wardrobe staples.
Belk’s Wonderly range of womenswear launched with fall wardrobe staples. Belk

For fall, the range of feminine tops and dresses debuted in a palette of earthy colors, textural fabrics and patterns like tie-dye, animal prints and stripes. Autumn oranges, rusty reds and golden hues also feature in the line, while a denim plays a key role, Belk said. Wonderly inlcudes jeans in a wide variety of washes and silhouettes, from skinny styles to wide legs, making it the store’s largest private-label denim line.

While consumers have demonstrated an eagerness to slip into more trend-forward looks as of late, athleisure maintains an evergreen presence in their wardrobes. Alongside the new launch, Belk will debut Wonderly Studio, an assortment of performance basics and lounge styles designed for comfort and movement.

Warm fall tones and stripes figure prominently in the collection.
Earthy fall tones and stripes figure prominently in new Belk’s Wonderly women’s wear. Belk

“The brand is designed to be versatile, everyday wear with endless possibilities,” Chris Kolbe, Belk’s chief merchandising officer said. “Wonderly lets our customers create unique looks by pairing our flattering denim with beautiful breezy tops, dresses, and sweaters.”

More than 100 Belk stores will offer the entire Wonderly size range, while the collection will also be available on Belk.com.

Amazon spurring private label craze?

Amazon has arguably perfected the art of the private label. While the company’s strategies have drawn criticism from both brands and government regulators, the data illustrates the tech giant’s private-label success.

Over the past four years, Amazon’s in-house brands saw their sales surge 39 percent. The Seattle firm’s on in-house product sales ballooned to $8.1 billion in 2020, a 48-percent increase from the year prior.

While many shoppers are drawn to Amazon-made products like Echo speakers, Kindle tablets, and FireTV Sticks, the company is making a play for a larger piece of the fashion pie. Last year, sales of private label apparel and footwear grew by 72 percent in 2020. Alongside low-cost offerings like T-shirts and sweats, which make a up a large portion of the company’s apparel sales, Amazon has ramped up efforts to brand itself as a destination for trend-forward garb. The Drop, which taps fashion influencers and the occasional brand to design limited-edition capsules, allows the company to make products and manage their sale.