Amazon Targets High-End Fashion

Amazon is stepping up a gear when it comes to the clothes the online retailer sells, with big plans to move into high-end fashion.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, admitted in a recent interview that "it's Day 1 in the category", but went on to say that the retail giant was set to make a "significant" investment in the sphere of fashion, in order to lure in top brands.

How significant? Recently, Amazon has focused on signing hundreds of those top brands, including the likes of Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood, Jack Spade and Tracy Reese - and the firm is continuing to court more.

This week, the company sponsored the Costume Institute Benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Amazon has apparently hired three women, full-time, just to try on size 8 shoes for its web reviews.

Moreover, the online retailer is prepared to throw money at free shipping - and crucially free returns - to lure folks into buying their designer jeans online. Free returns are a crucial aspect, given that the weakest point of online clothes shopping is not being able to try items on, with sizing guidelines often differing (a point Amazon is also trying to address with moves such as the aforementioned shoe sizing girls).

Amazon has its eyes firmly on the big profit margins that come from expensive clothes, although the firm will face resistance from many brands.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, noted: "[Amazon] has the latitude to set prices and charge whatever it wants. That is a huge threat for brands."

Amazon certainly has the financial muscle behind it to potentially carve itself a share of fashion dollars, but some brands have been put off by the look of Amazon's site in the past. Andy Dunn, founder of the men's fashion brand Bonobos, was quoted by the New York Times as stating: "It's not a place where you look at it and are like, ‘Oh, my clothes look and feel really good.'"

Which is why Amazon is making major investments in photography, enhancing its presentation, and as we've already mentioned, providing more detailed measurement guidance to help better size up items.

Ultimately, Amazon hopes that its focus on presentation and higher-end clothing, will encourage brands to believe it's not a lacklustre outlet incapable of selling fancy threads.

Bezos has also said that he isn't interested in taking a low-price approach to high fashion, so other retailers needn't fret about how Amazon is going to push prices down.

He commented: "There's a sophisticated markdown cadence in the fashion industry that we think makes sense and we're basically following that established approach."

Source: New York Times