The Genteel
April 22, 2021


Screenshot of
Chanel Iman for 
Fashion Fall 2012 Campaign.

With a massive new 40,000 square foot studio space in Brooklyn, Amazon is leaping into the business of fashion. Amazon is keen to continue to broaden its consumer base, and in an interview with Women's Wear Daily, Amazon Fashion's president, Cathy Beaudoin, said that it was only a matter of time before the retailer entered the high-fashion framework - not unlike the recent move by Amazon's largest competitor, eBay

The retail giant leased its new space specifically for its fashion endeavour in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn, which Beaudoin believes is "going to be a mecca - we hope - for creative talent." According to WWD, thousands of on-model product images will be shot in the studio every year, with the goal of enhancing the online presentation of its fashion offerings.

After spending more than a decade climbing the ranks at GAP Inc., Beaudoin - who is credited for building the company's successful online retailer, Piperlime - seems like just the person to make a go of Amazon's ambitious foray into the world of high fashion. At a time when the fashion industry has been hit hard by a downtrodden economy, one might say that Amazon is offering a level of stability. By employing a team of photographers, stylists and make-up artists, it may even play a role in boosting employment in the industry, while elevating its own brand within the fickle world of high fashion.

Nevertheless, the looming question mark in Amazon's success is whether or not fashion's biggest luxury brands will be willing to jump on-board with the online retailer that is more known for bargain household goods than the overall luxury experience associated with high-end brands.

By employing a team of photographers, stylists and make-up artists, [Amazon] may even play a role in boosting employment in the industry, while elevating its own brand within the fickle world of high fashion.

Notoriously exclusive brands such as Louis Vuitton aren't showing Amazon any love, but other mid-tier brands including Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood, BCBG Max Azria and Catherine Malandrino don't seem to mind. Meanwhile, Jonathan Akeroyd, chief executive of Alexander McQueen, doesn't dismiss the possibility, "It would be naïve to say we would absolutely never do anything ever with a company like Amazon. That said we are increasingly aware of the importance of brand identity online and maintaining it at the highest levels." According to The Guardian, Beaudoin is currently in talks with "the likes of Gucci, Prada and Burberry." 

In attracting designers into its fashion fold, the retailer may need to tweak its retail approach on the fashion front. While consumer goods including books, food and music thrive in the Amazon environment of unlimited selection and competitive price points, sometimes less is more in fashion. With a current tally of nearly three million items in its clothing section, Amazon's selection is already overwhelming. Isabel Cavill, senior retail analyst at Planet Retail, explained to The Guardian that Amazon's volume may be a hinderance: "We're in the age where the consumer actually wants more of an edit." 

But even still, as retail analyst at Verdict Research, Kate Omerod, told The Guardian, as long as Amazon is able to secure a big fashion brand, everything else will fall into place. "The luxury sector has traditionally been quite slow but it can't be a blanket 'no' now. They have to seek out online retail. They're a leader online," adds Omerod. "Even if it's only partly successful, the rewards will be huge." 



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