Amazon, Vogue, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, are coming together to launch a digital storefront that will allow customers to buy luxury goods from independent designers on the e-commerce giant, reports Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times.
The partnership, called “Common Threads: Vogue x Amazon Fashion,” is meant to help independent high-end designers that are being negatively impacted by the coronavirus, those behind the initiative say. Already, the storefront is selling notable designers such as 3.1 Phillip Lim, Derek Lam 10 Crosby, and Tabitha Simmons. Fashionista reports that more brands are set to join.
“I’m thrilled to announce this partnership, and want to thank Amazon Fashion, not only for its generous support of ‘A Common Thread,’ but also for so quickly sharing its resources to aid American designers affected by the pandemic,” Anna Wintour said in a statement. “While there isn’t one simple fix for our industry, which has been hit so hard, I believe this is an important step in the right direction.”
Amazon’s next move towards becoming a top player in fashion
The deal has come as a shock to some in the fashion world. Many luxury designers have long avoided Amazon, both because they don’t want to be associated with an “everyday store” and because of a hesitance to have their high-end goods sold alongside cheaper “dupes.”
But now, the pandemic has turned the industry on its head. In a world where brick-and-mortar stores have shut throughout the world in accordance with coronavirus lockdowns and online luxury e-commerce platforms, such as Net-a-Porter, have had to close their warehouses, many designers now see Amazon as a viable way to sell their goods during this time. Amazon has emerged as one of the most popular retailers amid the pandemic, as more people are staying home, browsing online, and doing their shopping on the internet.
As Friedman reports for the Times, the idea for the digital store stemmed from the “Common Threads” initiative launched by Vogue and the CFDA last month. The first iteration of the “Common Threads” grant program raised over $4 million for various designers, retailers, and garment manufacturers, to help keep them afloat amid the pandemic.
Amazon is giving $500,000 to the grant program, and, according to Freidman, when the online retail giant asked Vogue and the CFDA how else it could help the struggling fashion industry, the digital storefront idea was born.
This partnership now solidifies Amazon’s undeniable presence in the fashion industry — which began when Christine Beauchamp was hired to run the Amazon Fashion platform in 2017 and continued with the launches of Prime Wardrobe, styling tool Echo Look, Amazon-exclusive collections, and “Making the Cut,” a fashion competition show from the hosts of “Project Runway” — and could change the way luxury is sold in a post-coronavirus world.
Already, Amazon is innovating within the space, allowing shoppers to purchase winning designs from “Making the Cut” immediately after episodes air.
“Amazon is really starting to become a leader in the fashion space through initiatives like this,” Jason Altuzarra, designer and judge on “Making the Cut,” previously told Business Insider. “I think it will make a difference.”
But fashion editors, critics, and writers have already taken to Twitter to express their disdain for the Amazon partnership
While many knew that fashion would be forever changed after the pandemic, this isn’t exactly the way they wanted it to shift.
French fashion journalist Pierre M’Pelé, known as Pam Boy on Twitter, expressed that the partnership was simply Jeff Bezos’ way of telling the “snobby luxury world that despises him” that he has “more money” than them.
Meanwhile, Tyler McCall, editor-in-chief of the digital fashion publication Fashionista, expressed her upset on Twitter, saying that “working in fashion is like being on the Titanic as it’s sinking and everyone still getting fully dressed and sitting down for dinner at the appointed hour ‘because that’s what we’ve always done.'”
—Tyler McCall (@eiffeltyler) May 14, 2020
Many on Twitter expressed doubts that people would go to Amazon to purchase luxury items, with luxury marketer Shelby Ivey Christie tweeting that “people want to see at LEAST 100 reviews on $2 + $20 products to feel assured,” and asking, “how do we think consumers will feel buying $500 designer products with 0 reviews?”
Another fashion journalist, Alexandra Mondalek, known for features in Business of Fashion and Vogue Business, questioned whether consumers would care if “they bought $750 Chloe Gosselin sandals off of Amazon versus Net-a-Porter, if the product is the same price.”
Later, Mondalek posted a poll to her Twitter page, asking her followers where they would most likely purchase their luxury goods: from Amazon, a luxury e-commerce platform, or directly from the brand. At the time of publication, less than 7% said they would buy luxury from Amazon.