Can Amazon Conquer the High Fashion Apparel Market?

Photo credit: NYTimes

What comes to mind when you think of Amazon.com? Bazillions of books – check. Discount electronics – check. That bedazzled Hello Kitty iPhone cover that is a STEAL for just 10 bucks – wait, did we say that out loud? Anyway, what doesn’t come to mind is high fashion, but that may change, if Amazon powers-that-be have their way.

Amazon Takes on the High Fashion Market

According to the New York Times and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos:

“Amazon has sold clothing for years. But recently it has focused on signing on hundreds of contemporary and high-end brands, including Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood, Catherine Malandrino, Jack Spade and Tracy Reese, and it continues to prowl for more.”

The online giant has set its sights on upping apparel sales for one simple reason: dollars and cents, since costs for Amazon are about the same on shipping “a $10 book or a $1,000 skirt”, meaning that “gross profits per unit will be much higher on a fashion item.”

The focus on apparel, however, may not mean much for us budget-conscious fashionistas – the move is going to be, according to Amazon, all about “luxe” (evidenced by their somewhat quietly launched flash sale site, MyHabit.com). Really? True, we’ve never looked to Amazon much for apparel because what we’ve seen have been sold through unknown retailers and frequently looked, well, cheap – but making the leap directly to high-end might require Amazon to do more brand shifting from the current “Amazon-equals-discount-online-clearinghouse” than might actually be possible.

Still, if Amazon can revamp AND get designers to play ball (a problem, since they’ve developed a reputation as indiscriminate sellers) they just might be poised to conquer one more retail sector on the long road to internet domination.