Wal-Mart’s Quest To Be More Sophisticated

Uniforms at retail help define a brand. Last week I was at Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City where the staff wears tie-dyed oxford cloth shirts. It’s easy for me to feel at home in such a place.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the world’s largest retailer is now looking to spiff up its outfits.

For decades, a humble blue smock or vest has been required dress for employees at Wal-Mart Stores, conveying the retailer’s working-class image and its modest roots in rural Bentonville, Ark.
But a fancier Wal-Mart, which is trying to attract upscale shoppers with 300-thread-count sheets, flat-screen televisions and nine-layer lasagna, calls for a fancier uniform.
So the company has begun quietly testing a new look for its 1.3 million workers in the United States: khaki pants and a navy blue polo shirt, according to employees briefed on the clothing plans.
Wal-Mart, long a symbol of dowdy, traditional fashions, is graduating to preppy.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Neato. Given the recent news that W-M is pushing to increase its percentage of part-time workers to 60, I wonder how often employees will mistakenly show up in the “uniform” from one of their other three gigs necessary to make rent and feed a family. Or maybe the khaki pants will provide the common element across several part-time uniforms? Yeah, that’s probably what the Waltons had in mind as they were charging employees twenty or thirty bucks for the uniforms made by Indian kids for eight cents. Wal-Mart is awesome!

  2. I sported the exact same outfit when I hosted Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties as a teen 15 years ago. Nothing remotely preppy about that, unless the reek of garlic and small child is preppy.
    My guess is also that the employess will have to purchase their own uniforms, so the chief cheapsters get out of buying smocks too.