Retail destination and trillion-dollar company, Amazon, has launched what it calls, “luxury stores”, and they have the potential to eviscerate the shopping experience we know and love.
Known and loved for its ability to deliver just about anything – from books to electronics – in record time, essentially, it’s a one stop shop. Amazon has now dipped it’s toes further into the retail of clothing, so what does this mean for the fashion industry?
In the wake of a global pandemic, many retailers are hurting. Without physical retail opportunities, many businesses worldwide have been forced to close after succumbing to the financial pressures that losing all income has. Spearheaded by Vogue, ‘A Common Thread’ is an initiative creating opportunities for independent brands and designers to advertise their products on the Amazon fashion platform. The website boasts that the web-based retail program “aims to raise both awareness and needed funds for those in the American fashion community who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
However, this opportunity has received major backlash from independent designers, because of the simplistic logic that the average Amazon customer, is not looking to buy a product that matches the price point of an independent brand or designer. Simply put, the customer base and target audience, differ incredibly. An article on The Cut commented that “if convenience becomes the new luxury, then Amazon will be well placed to capitalise upon it.” However, this does lead to further opportunities for Amazon’s fast fashion options. Launching in 2016, with labels such as “Lark & Ro” – akin to Zara – the business is able to maximise impact. Based on the convenience of this Amazon has become the US’ top fashion retailer.
Given the fast fashion nature of their brands, Amazon have been able to reduce cost and speed up production. This means that in the name of profit, environmentally friendly products such as dyes and fabrics are avoided, simply to save money.
A report on TechRadar regarding Amazon’s business model states that “a service that positions fashion as consumable and disposable makes fantastic business sense, but for the environment, the cost is just too high.”
Contributing to pollution of water, air and soil, fast fashion has taken not only the fashion industry by storm, but the health of the planet as well.
Despite still developing its own brand, the launch of its new luxury stores, allows Amazon to further threaten the experience of shopping for designer clothing as we know it. Essentially, this new launch allows brands to create a store within a store. Offering unique 360-degree views, the platform has the potential to transform how brands sell, but more importantly, how we shop. Launching exclusively with high end brand Oscar de la Renta, Amazon’s latest attempt to break into the high-end fashion industry.
Amazon previously had partnered Nike – however direct sales ceased in 2019 with the brand citing it would prefer to have a more personal relationship with it’s customer than Amazon could offer. The customer base for this new luxury platform, however, targets a much more affluent consumer. Placing significant focus on the unique opportunity available, Amazon has introduced scarcity – in line with the opulent ethos – by limiting access to a select few US prime members, The Verge calls it “the digital equivalent of a red velvet rope, with Luxury Stores separating the hoi polloi from the haute couture”.
In a world that is ever-increasingly technology driven, platforms such as these will continue to emerge. Despite the convenience, particularly for those who don’t enjoy the standard retail experience, the further we lean into fast fashion culture, the greater detriment to the entire fashion industry far beyond the financial impacts of the global pandemic.
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