"Wal-Mart has suffered from not knowing who they want to be," Allen Questrom, the former CEO of JC Penney Co. who recently left
Wal-Mart's board, tells Ann Zimmerman. "They're either trying to be too fashionable or too basic." And basics have with low margins, he points out, and don't drive traffic.
Mattison, who was supposed to bring a fashion-for-the-masses appeal to the stores, was replaced as chief fashionista last week by Lisa Rhodes, who joined Wal-Mart in January after serving as chief
merchant at the Dress Barn's Maurices chain of teen clothing stores.
Critics say Mattison's penchant to embellish clothing with rhinestones and sequins failed to make the garments look trendy. "It just made them look cheap," says Deutsche analyst Bank Bill Dreher. Rhodes's challenge, Zimmerman writes, will be to navigate "the fine line between boring basics and overly glitzy."