Walmart signs on Australian fashion label

Walmart signs on Australian fashion label

Posted by Marketing Team on

Penny Weber

Adaptive fashion brand The Shapes United has struck a deal to sell 15 of its highest-selling products through US retail giant Walmart.

It is the first Australian adaptive fashion label to do so.

Speaking with Ragtrader, founder and disability advocate Penny Weber (pictured) said Walmart reached out to her in April last year, asking to include her clothing brand in its adaptive clothing range.

“We were sick with COVID-19, lockdowns were happening, and then I got a message from a Walmart representative on LinkedIn. I couldn’t believe it,” Weber said.

The Shapes United officially launched an initial range of 170 SKUs via Walmart online on National Disability Independence Day in the US this week. Currently, the products are featured on the US retailer’s front page.

“We initially just organised the stock we could within the short lead time,” she said. “This included the top sellers of our adaptive and sensory ranges from Australia.”

Weber said her team will be sending more of its new releases shortly.

“We have another couple of capsule releases scheduled for later this year, with some of these products destined for the US market,” Weber said. “We are keen to work with the American market and see what people most connect with.

“We have a good relationship with our Australian customers. They are really clear about the types of styles and functions that they are looking for, so we look forward to making new products specifically for the American market.”

Regarding the process of locking in the deal and planning the ranges, Weber said it is usually post-implementation when the faster route becomes known.

“Setting up an American entity, with sales and tax compliance was a little more challenging than I initially thought,” Weber confirmed. “However, through the process, I have met with some incredible people from Austrade, Global Victoria and Business Victoria who have filled in some of the gaps.

“After setting up the entity and trading offices, there was the process of shipping logistics, warehousing, insurance and localised marketing.

“I am incredibly grateful for the support that I have received along the way to get to this point. It has been those key introductions to people on the ground that has helped me learn better and faster ways to do this again in the future.”

Weber said the partnership with Walmart demonstrates that accessibility, particularly in fashion, is now mainstream.

“With 1 in 4 Americans having a disability, then, access to functional and fashionable goods is a must,” she said.

“In Australia, The Iconic is leading the way with its adaptive category. This should be the norm. Our stores should represent the people of our community and provide solutions for everybody.

“We are not that far behind America with 1 in 5 Australians with a disability. This is a large cohort of our community that are being underserviced. We aim to bridge this gap."

Weber founded the brand during COVID. In 2021, she worked with the Remarkable startup accelerator, a division of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, where she noticed a gap in the market for adaptive fashion.

All clothes feature adaptations such as wider openings, hook and loop closures, no tags and flat seams and come in sizes ranging from X-Small to 3XL.

The Shapes United and its sister brand Recovawear were inspired by Weber’s personal experience with limited mobility. In 2009 she was involved in a serious car accident that saw the left side of her body affected.

“It’s a different situation to the old, ‘I have nothing to wear’ conundrum,” Weber said. “I was 32 and I literally had nothing to wear. I couldn’t dress myself, and I knew this was the reality for many others.

“I was surprised there was nothing available.

“I am grateful to be in the position to assist people to have the ability to dress themselves and to dress how they want.”

The Shapes United is sold directly in both Australia and US online and via wholesale contracts with The Iconic, Averee, Hello Good World and Better That.



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