Brian Maxwell, whose sophisticated colorful designs are sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, has been named creative director at Walmart Inc., as the retail and digital giant tries to gain a firmer foothold in apparel beyond the basics it’s been known for.
Brandon Maxwell will oversee Free Assembly and Scoop, Walmart’s two exclusive elevated fashion brands. The role is a first for Walmart’s private brand apparel business, which aims to expanded its assortment of on-trend and accessible fashion to help customers built their closets.
Walmart Inc. and fashion have had a fitful relationship. That’s because the mass market behemoth has had difficulty committing to the category and leaning into trends when its consumers were content to buy basics. When the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer in 2005 launched Metro 7, it said at the time that the brand was “designed with the highly stylish, fashion-conscious customer in mind.” Walmart was roundly ridiculed for daring to flex its style muscles.
However, Walmart realized it was missing an enormous opportunity to sell consumers well-designed apparel at higher price points, something competitor Amazon
Maxwell will be responsible for driving the design of men’s, women’s, children’s and accessories collections with four seasonal collections per year for each of the brands. In addition, he’ll offer input into material selection, sourcing and production. The first collections bearing his imprimatur will bow for holiday 2021 with Maxwell’s full lines launching in Spring 2022. The designer will also be involved in brand marketing initiatives and campaigns for the labels.
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Free Assembly, features simple designs with a slightly retro feel, such as flare jeans, denim Western shirts, camp shirts and boyfriend blazers, priced from $10 to $58. at great values, while Scoop, a reimagining of the Manhattan boutique and private label, which launched in fall 2019, is more trend-conscious with faux leather moto jac4kets, high-waisted sailor jeans, cargo jumpsuits and white booties, priced from $9 to 40.
“Working with Walmart has long been a dream of mine,” Maxwell said. “Like many people across the country who live in a small town, Walmart was the destination for everything where I grew up in Texas, including clothing. This partnership allows me to bring the experience and joy of fashion to countless people who live in small towns across the country.”
“Brandon is a powerhouse in the fashion industry. His designs are beautiful, youthful, timeless and expertly tailored,” said Denise Incandela, executive vice president of apparel and private brands at Walmart. “Our shared fashion values of accessibility and commitment to incredible design and quality make him an ideal partner for Walmart. Bringing his distinctive design talent to our elevated brand collections of Free Assembly and Scoop, allows Walmart to offer customers stylish, high-quality fashion at an extraordinary value.”
Steven Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, said of Maxwell’s appointment at Walmart, “It’s important that designers embrace opportunities that not just expand their design scope but also widen their general reach. We firmly believe in this, especially more so now when many creative businesses have been challenged by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
“The stigma of designer collaborations that was still so prevalent in the Halston era has long passed,” Kolb added. “Brandon’s new role as creative director of Walmart’s Free Assembly and Scoop fashion brands is a great way for him to bring his fashion eye to new audiences and an expansive market. He’s also always shopped at Walmart growing up in Texas, so there is a personal resonance as well as authenticity to his new role.”
As a part of this partnership and his ongoing commitment to giving back to the community, Maxwell has also designed a line of face masks available exclusively at Walmart starting today. Timed to this launch of Maxwell’s exclusive face masks, Walmart will donate $100,000 to DonorsChoose.org, a charity selected by Maxwell for its dedication to helping public school teachers get the funding they need for materials and experiences that will help their students learn.
“I’m excited to speak to the issues that matter most and give back through this platform. I remember when my career started growing, people would ask me, ‘What’s the big end goal for you,’” Maxwell said. “I remember my answer was, I always wanted to be at Walmart. As you travel this country, it’s always a place that you can get to.”