Continuing an exceptionally thrilling day of corporations buying other corporations, Walmart has countered Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods with its own plan to purchase men’s retailer Bonobos for $310 million in cash. Pretty stupid, actually; if Walmart had just waited a week, Bonobos usually has a 40-percent-off sale.
Bonobos, esteemed maker of many of my pants, has become one of the most popular clothing brands on the internet since debuting 10 years ago, expanding from its initial focus on chinos into things that go with those chinos—such as shirts, and other shirts with fucking cockatoos on them that look good on maybe two people on Earth, and one of them is Weird Al. Even as other fashion outlets like J. Crew have seen diminishing returns of late, Bonobos is one of the few brands that continues to grow—around 30 percent year over year, Recode claims—by offering fast, no-hassle shipping and free returns, and making some pretty damn good pants.
Meanwhile, Walmart, scourge of fair business practices, has become one of the worst companies in the world over decades of driving out independent stores and draining small towns, using cheaply sourced sweatshop and child labor, and generally treating its employees like dispensable cattle to be gouged, abused, and put down the second they become disabled or pregnant. It is a deceptive corporation that destroys communities and disregards human lives, and goddamnit, I really like those pants. They fit really well, and I don’t want to buy them from Walmart.
The purchase is part of Walmart’s aggressive move toward snapping up more and more e-commerce brands to compete with Amazon, which has also seen the recent acquisitions of the online shopping space Jet.com, the self-descriptive ShoeBuy, outdoor retailer Moosejaw, and the independent women’s clothing company Modcloth (which my wife reports isn’t as good as it used to be anyway, so fuck it). Under the new deal, Bonobos clothing will not, as of yet, be sold in Walmart stores; it’s not clear yet what will happen to the brand’s current presence in Nordstrom or Bonobos’ own brick-and-mortar locations, if anything. In a statement, Walmart CEO Marc Lore insists nothing about Bonobos will change, other than you may soon see its products offered through Jet and Walmart’s other “digitally native vertical brands.” And of course, anything you buy there will give money to Walmart, who is awful.
But hey, eventually everything we buy will come from either Walmart or Amazon, right? Until one inevitably swallows the other, and then no one will be able to get good pants without a clear conscience. Such is our modern dilemma; such is the blood on our pants.