Is Amazon “Trendy”?: Why High-Fashion Brands Reject the E-Commerce Website

On a recent episode of “Planet of the Apps,” a young woman presented her idea for a fashion e-commerce app called “Dote” that sells clothing from well known brands all in one place. When Gary Vaynerchuck posed the question “What if Amazon offers $1 billion for this tomorrow?”, Gwenyth Paltrow quickly jumped in stating that Amazon has has no success selling fashion items. This brings up an interesting topic. Why has a company as well-known as powerful as Amazon been rejected by the fashion world?

As the world’s fourth largest IT company, Amazon has realized tremendous success since its birth in 1994. But one area that they struggle to find success in is the fashion industry. After pushing for years to get in on the clothing world, Amazon has managed to acquire seven total trademarked brands, including Franklin & Franklin, Franklin Tailored, James & Erin, Lark & Ro, North Eleven, Scout & Ro, and Society New York (Kim, 2016). Despite this puncture into the fashion bubble, there is one major gap that the $2.4 billion platform hasn’t been able to pop. Specifically, this is the high-fashion world.

Amazon has been testing strategies to obtain high-class clothing for years without success. Luxury brands are weary of being sold on this massive platform, largely because of their critique that it’s simple, plain image doesn’t fit well with their elite, high-class image. “It’s not a place where you look at it and are like ‘Oh, my clothes look and feel really good,’” said Andy Dunn, founder of men’s fashion brand Bonobos (Clifford, 2017).

Last year, LVMH, the owner of luxury fashion brands like Dior and Fendi, said there was “no way” it would sell its clothes on Amazon because its e-commerce marketplace did not cater to luxury brands (Rao, 2017). Perhaps this is because high-fashion brands want their customers to not only experience high-quality in their clothes, but also in the shopping experience that leads them to the purchase. On a massive e-commerce platform like Amazon, the shopping experience may not feel as uniquely intimate.

Not only might Amazon’s platform be labelled as plain and boring, the opposite of the ideal positioning for a high-fashion brand, it also has been associated with old and used items. The platform is often recognized for its large assortment of books, movies, and other random items. Just like someone looking to build their fashionista closet wouldn’t go perusing through Walmart for clothes, people are hesitant to buy high-class clothes online when they are on the same website as these other, unrelated items.

When people want to buy nice new clothes, they are likely turned away from Amazon because it is polluted with thousands of other, lower quality clothes as well and this shapes its entire image of being the place where someone might go to buy new socks or boxer briefs, not a brand new Burberry coat or Louis Vuitton purse.

References

Clifford, Stephanie. “Amazon Leaps Into End of the Fashion Pool.” The New York Times, May 7, 2017.

Kim, Eugene. “Amazon Quietly Launched 7 Fashion Brands While Ramping Up Hiring for its Own Clothing Line.” Business Insider, Feb 22, 2016.

Rao, Leena. “Amazon Just Lost this Key Executive.” Fortune. May 4, 2017.