When someone says “retailers of upscale men’s fashion,” you probably don’t picture Walmart. Yet the mega-retailer is adding menswear company Bonobos, which started online and now has boutiques in cities and in Nordstrom stores, to its collection of online brands.
As rumored a few months ago, Walmart’s Jet subsidiary is acquiring Bonobos for $310 million. It makes a nice collection with other brands that Jet has acquired recently, which include women’s clothing retailer ModCloth and outdoors retailer MooseJaw.
Bonobos began as an online retailer of khakis, and from there has expanded into other non-khaki clothing items. While the cheapest shirts at Walmart retail in the single digits, clothes at Bonobos start around $90, and top out around $500.
The company has 30 stores where customers can be custom measured for their clothes, and also mini-stores at Nordstrom. It focuses on customer service and offers free shipping and a loose return policy, as one might expect at that price point.
Will customers who know that the brand is part of the vast Wally World empire still want to buy $500 suits there? It’s unclear, but customers of the whimsical, vintage-inspired brand ModCloth reacted badly to the retailer’s sale to Walmart.
While you won’t see a Bonobos display plopped down in the middle of the menswear department at your local Supercenter, the company’s products will probably appear for sale on Jet.
Amazon is making a big push into fashion, and Walmart is pushing back by acquiring its way into a more robust e-commerce operation, as well as acquiring the audiences that come with its new acquisitions.
“I saw Walmart acquire Jet and then ModCloth, and, I thought, they get the future of e-commerce is brands,” Bonobos co-founder and CEO Andy Dunn told the New York Times. Dunn will be in charge of the company’s higher-end digital brands, including ModCloth.