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Walmart.com testing line of women’s apparel

Wal-Mart Stores Inc is once again taking the plunge into trendy clothing for women — and it’s hoping for a better reception this time around.
/ Source: Reuters

Wal-Mart Stores Inc is once again taking the plunge into trendy clothing for women — and it’s hoping for a better reception this time around.

Called z.b.d. design, the new clothing line is being tested by the world’s largest retailer only on its Web site, after rocky attempts to sell hipper apparel in its brick and mortar stores.

The z.b.d line features items like a tweed trapeze jacket for $29.88, matching wide-leg tweed trousers for $22.88 and a puff-sleeve button down shirt for $16.88.

The move comes as Wal-Mart is trying to get its apparel sales back on track after efforts last year to compete with Target Corp and sell hipper clothes, like skinny jeans and velvet blazers, backfired with its shoppers, who were looking for basic, classic and affordable clothing.

That left it with heaps of unsold merchandise it was forced to markdown, hurting sales and margins.

“At this time, we’re testing this offering only online at Walmart.com,” a Walmart.com spokeswoman said. “We’ll continue to evaluate this line of merchandise and gauge customer feedback over the coming months.”

In its stores, Wal-Mart has reverted to the “basics” — stocking items like T-shirts or shorts in a wide selection of colors and sizes that emphasize its low prices.

“Today, we’re thinking very basic,” Vice Chairman John Menzer said at a Goldman Sachs retail conference on Thursday. ”If you look at our 3- to 5-year plan, there’ll be some brands, some exclusive brands, some more private label.

“But we are just trying to get to basics, get our merchandise flow right and really drive the business.”

Wal-Mart often sells different merchandise on its Web site than it does in its stores. It has said its online customers tend to have higher incomes than the customers who shop in its stores, which means some merchandise might be better suited for sale online.

It said it began testing the z.b.d. line in mid-August.