Can Amazon dominate apparel with its own private labels?
Amazon’s recent success with its private label Amazon Elements line seems to have gotten the e-tailer thinking about where else it can find a win. Over the past six months or so, Amazon’s moves had indicated the company was eyeing the fashion world and intended to launch a private-label apparel brand. Now Quartz reports that Amazon has rolled out its own line of fashion brands, under the radar.
According to Quartz, Amazon quietly launched lines of menswear and accessories, women’s clothing and bags, and children’s wear under seven different in-house brand names. Quartz confirmed Amazon’s ownership of the trademarks.
Speculation about the move had been percolating for some time. Earlier in the month, Refinery29, citing an article on WWD, reported that Amazon posted a job listing seeking a senior sourcing manager for the company’s Amazon Fashion Private Label team. The job responsibilities for the position included launching “new high quality products for [Amazon’s] global customers.” The CEO of Amazon’s Shopbop unit, Jeff Yurcisin, envisioned private label clothing lines meeting consumer demand for brands that refused to sell with Amazon, according to an October 2015 Buzzfeed article.
A New York Times article from July 2015 about Amazon’s aspirations at Fashion Week threw light on the challenge. Only seven of the 43 fashion labels with runway presences sold directly through Amazon (with 18 others selling fashion through Amazon subsidiaries like East Dane), according to the article.
Amazon has stated, according to Quartz, that fashion is its quickest growing category. An e-commerce clothing company called Revolve cites house brands as some of its biggest sellers.
But whether people will buy Amazon house brand clothing as replacements for the fashionable brands missing from the e-tailer’s assortment is an open question. Successful house brands in the brick-and-mortar world, such as Target’s Merona and Mossimo lines, are thought of as functional rather than high fashion. Amazon likewise has the reputation of filling functional, not fashionable, needs.
With Amazon currently experimenting with brick-and-mortar book sales, its private label clothing launch also raises speculation over a future Amazon apparel storefront.
- Amazon has quietly launched its own clothing lines, as it tries to take over fashion retail – Quartz
- Amazon’s Own Clothing Brand May Be Coming Soon – Refinery29
- Amazon Is Considering Making Its Own Private Label Clothing Line – Buzzfeed
- Amazon Gears Up for New York Fashion Week for Men – The New York Times (tiered sub.)
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect Amazon’s private label clothing to catch on with consumers? What branding challenges does the e-tailer face? What will Amazon’s push into the apparel space mean for other retailers?