Walmart unveils sportswear line with Michelle Smith and Stacey Griffith
Fashion designer Michelle Smith and SoulCycle instructor Stacey Griffith are debuting their Love & Sports sportswear line at Walmart. The line is designed to be fashionable, with vibrant colors and unique fabrics.
Over the past two years, fashion designer Michelle Smith and SoulCycle instructor Stacey Griffith have touched dozens of fabrics, spit out brand names, and tried out samples of sports bras and leggings while relaxing at home or sweating while exercising.
Now, the New York-based couple is revealing their secret project: Love & Sports, the premium sportswear and swimwear brand they’re debuting with Walmart. The new brand will appear on the major retailer’s website on Friday and will appear in 1,500 stores.
“I think some of our friends actually thought we were having a baby because we couldn’t talk about anything and said, ‘We can’t go. We have a lot of work to do,” Griffith said.
“I’m guessing we’re kind of having a baby,” Smith said with a laugh.
Smith co-founded the luxury clothing brand Milly and designed the dress Michelle Obama wore in her portrait at the Smithsonian. She now has a newer eponymous line of stylish pieces, from silk camisoles to alpaca coats, that can cost up to $2,750 each.
Meanwhile, Griffith gained a following as an indoor cycling teacher and went on a motivational tour with Oprah Winfrey. The designer and fitness instructor met—and later started dating—through SoulCycle classes.
The trendy clothing collection is another sign of the retailer’s desire to change its reputation and become a place where shoppers can find stylish clothes, as well as milk, bananas and TVs.
Walmart is launching a growing number of exclusive and prestigious fashion brands, including Sofia Jeans, a denim brand co-designed with actress Sofia Vergara; Eloquii Elements, a plus size womenswear brand inspired by the acquired Eloquii brand; Scoop, a womenswear fashion brand; and Free Assembly, a line of casual wear for men, women and children.
He also tapped into the star power of other fashion names, notably hiring Brandon Maxwell, who has dressed famous women including Lady Gaga, as creative director for Scoop and Free Assembly.
Love & Sports will be sold on the Walmart website and in 1,500 stores. His first collection includes 121 items priced between $12 and $42.
Walmart, which still earns most of its annual revenue from its grocery business, does not separate clothing sales from other general goods such as home furnishings and electronics.
Denise Incandela, Walmart’s U.S. executive vice president of apparel and private labels, said the retailer loved Love & Sports’ unique design and bold colors. She said the collaboration with Smith and Griffith made it possible to stand out in a category where high quality usually comes at a high price.
The idea for the new brand was born when Smith reached out to Incandela via an Instagram direct message in the early months of the pandemic. Incandela, a Saks Fifth Avenue graduate, knew Smith because the luxury chain sold her Milly clothing line.
Smith later shared some of the initial sketches she had been working on for several months. “It’s just such a natural extension of Stacey and me that it almost engineered itself,” she said. “It just spilled over onto paper.”
Smith, who has trained at high-end fashion houses like Hermes and Louis Vuitton, said she and Griffith were committed to designing clothes that fit both the budget and the figure.
The brand’s first collection includes 121 items priced between $12 and $42. It includes retro running shorts, cropped sweatshirts and seamless bras. It ranges in sizes from XS to XXXL for sportswear and up to XXL for swimwear.
The items have details that combine streetwear and fitness, such as multiple cell phone pockets, invisible inside zippers to secure credit cards, and belts that can be worn high waisted (Smith’s preferred style) or rolled up for low waisted. appearance (Griffith’s preference).
Love & Sports will add shoes and accessories this fall, including sneakers and bags.
Love & Sports debuts swimwear. In autumn, the line will include shoes and accessories.
Sportswear has become a more popular but also more crowded area during the pandemic. According to The NPD Group, sales in the menswear and womenswear category rose from $52.3 billion in 2019 to $70.8 billion in 2021, up 35% over the two-year period. The market research team includes all garments with active properties such as moisture-wicking fabric.
Kristen Klassy-Zummo, an industry analyst who does fashion for The NPD Group, said some observers are betting that as the pandemic subsides, people will once again go out into the world dressed and ready to don formal attire, as if in stormy 20s.
Instead, she said, people were mostly looking for comfy and versatile pieces that fit into the hybrid lifestyle, such as pants with enough stretch to allow for a quick walk down the block between virtual meetings, or a longer sports bra that can be paired. with workouts. leggings, as well as jeans and heels.
However, as the category has grown, so has the number of brands vying for market share. The number of sportswear brands has grown from 1,600 in 2014 to 2,400 in 2021, according to NPD. This field includes players from Lululemon and Nike to private labels launched by companies such as Target, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Classi-Zummo expects sportswear to remain popular this year and beyond, but its growth rate will be lower than double digits in 2021, which it says will increase competition among consumers.
“We still expect it to grow, but what is a brand to do in a market where there is less growth and much more competition?” she said. “She has been buying sportswear for many years. She doesn’t need another pair of black leggings. What features, what new fit, what new fabric can you offer to keep her or him interested in this category?”
Griffith said Love & Sports was partly inspired by the transition to the “delicious fabric era” associated with the pandemic.
She said she had already secretly worn the brand to SoulCycle classes, but hid sports bras under tops and wore shorts without a logo. However, now she is looking forward to her big discovery.