On her trips to Wal-Mart, Lynn Foster normally looks for bargain gifts and housewares, but on her most recent trip to the super-retailer she made a detour to women's wear.
"I like the sequins," the Aiken resident said about pants from the company's new apparel line, Metro 7. "It looks like it'd be something for work or dressing up to go out in."
Following in the footsteps of Target, which has produced popular clothing lines such as Xhilaration, Mossimo and Isaac Mizrahi, that's exactly what Wal-Mart officials were going for when they designed the line of trend-following separates made for its fashion-conscious customers.
Considered the company's premiere women's fashion collection, the line was launched in early October and is available at walmart.com and about 500 selected stores, including the Deans Bridge Road location.
"We looked at the brands we had and our customer segments, and one of the things that stuck out conspicuously was there was a group of female customers who shop our stores for grocery or whatnot that had preference for fashion we weren't serving at all," said Gail Lavielle, Wal-Mart's director of corporate communications.
"They had a sense of trend and fashion," she explained. "And they wanted things that they can go to work in the morning but be dressy enough to go into the evening."
Available in misses and plus sizes, the line includes velvet jackets, silk camisoles, beaded tunics and detailed denim. The styles will change with whatever happens to be the "in look" of the seasons, Ms. Lavielle said.
Although the line will be updated regularly, the one thing that won't change is the company's commitment to making fashion affordable, she said.
"It's designed to help you mix and match," Ms. Lavielle said. "Generally, you can put a full outfit together for $35."
Ms. Foster was impressed with that more than the shiny additions to the pants.
"Normally, you don't find (nice) brands, and when you do it and it's cheaper than at a Belk or a Penney's," she said, "you like that."
At the Super Wal-Mart on Deans Bridge Road customers have been intrigued, said Yvette Bentley, the interim department manager for women's wear.
"We have the jeans, trousers, blazers, tank top, camisoles and sweaters," Ms. Bentley said. "The jeans and the camisoles are doing really well. They like how the jeans fit."
By spring, Ms. Lavielle said, the Metro 7 line should roll out to more than 1,000 stores nationwide.
Even in the stores without the new line, changes have been made to get customers to notice the clothing in addition to the bargains on toilet tissue or motor oil.
Most of the apparel offerings have been revamped because the company has begun an intensive process to clarify its fashion offerings by redefining brands such as Faded Glory, George, No Boundaries and more.
"(Apparel) was one of the areas that we thought that people were coming into the stores to buy food and weren't coming to look at apparel," Ms. Lavielle said. "Now there are people that come in and buy everything at Wal-Mart, but people who are more classic in clothing style or more fashion forward felt we weren't giving them something they wanted."
Metro 7 is just one way to address that, Ms. Lavielle said.
Ms. Foster might be an early convert.
"I was just looking to see what they had out for Christmas," she said searching the racks for a pair of Metro 7 black slacks in her size. "But this was pretty, it caught my eye."
Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
specialWal-Mart is catering to customers with more of a fashion-forward taste in clothing. The new line offer a hip look for that demographic of shoppers.
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