Walmart Launches Activewear Collection As it Leans Into Private Label Brands

Walmart is making moves to expand its roster of private label brands.

The big-box retailer on Friday announced the launch of Love & Sports, its new activewear and swim brand created in partnership with designer Michelle Smith and cycling instructor Stacey Griffith. Starting with activewear, the collection is rolling out 1,500 Walmart stores, with swim slated to arrive in the next few days and footwear and accessories slated for the fall. All items in the collection are priced between $12 and $42.

“Since the pandemic started, activewear has been a high growth category and an important one for our customers,” said Denise Incandela, Walmart’s EVP of apparel and private brands, in a blog post announcing the new collection. “It was only natural for activewear to be the next step in expanding our elevated brands portfolio, and we’re doing it with a bold, exciting brand that fills a white space for high-quality, high-performance activewear and swim without the high price tag.”

The launch into women’s activewear marks Walmart’s latest effort to expand its roster of private label brands, an increasingly popular move among major retailers. Walmart currently operates a slew of private brands, including Time and Tru, Wonder Nation, No Boundaries, and Ozark Trail. Still, the company continues to expand its reach of owned and exclusive brands.

In late March, Walmart announced that the Caleres-owned Sam & Libby brand as well as the Steve Madden-owned Madden NYC brands would be sold exclusively at Walmart. Earlier this week, Walmart launched an exclusive outdoor and home collection with HGTV Dave and Jenny Marrs.

Private label have the potential to fill in product white space in underserved markets, such as women’s activewear.

Women’s private label activewear brands made up 40% of the market in 2021, according to Matt Powell, NDP’s VP and senior industry advisor for sports. And private label activewear was 28% of the activewear market, representing the largest share in this category.

Other retailers that had traditionally relied on powerhouse brands are also increasingly leaning into their own private label brands. Foot Locker, which is also losing a significant amount of Nike product this year, launched Lckr, its in-house apparel line, and Cozi, its first womenswear brand in 2021. Macy’s, which saw growth in its assortment of owned brands in 2021, recently tapped a new SVP of private brands who previously oversaw this area for Target.

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