Amazon’s Risky Bid: Invite-Only Luxury Fashion Shopping

Screencaps of the new Amazon luxury store Amazon

If you are eyeing a $2,500 Oscar de la Renta dress for your next special occasion, does it matter if it’s sold by Saks Fifth Avenue or Amazon? Now that most of America’s luxury department stores have faltered, Amazon making a move to add some glitz to its fashion empire.

On Tuesday morning, Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Luxury Stores, a new section on its mobile app that offers designer apparel and accessories. The new section marks a dramatic shift from Amazon’s high-volume, lowest-price-everywhere brand proposition.

The retail giant kicks off the Luxury Stores with Oscar de la Renta’s pre-fall and fall-winter 2020 collections and promised that more designer brands will be added in the coming weeks.

This is not Amazon’s first attempt at breaking into luxury fashion. In fact, the tech giant had been eyeing this lucrative retail sector since 2012, but with little success. High-end brands were reluctant to place their products next to discount patio chairs and kitchen towels. Customers, too, could easily find better shopping experience from department stores and brand boutiques.

But now, the industry looks a lot different after the downfall of Barneys, Saks, Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor leaves a huge void to fill.

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“We are always listening to and learning from our customers, and we are inspired by feedback from Prime members who want the ability to shop their favorite luxury brands in Amazon’s store,” Christine Beauchamp, President of Amazon Fashion, said in a statement. “We are excited to offer luxury brands the services and technology to build an inspiring, elevated customer experience.”

Knowing that it’s no expert in selling to luxe shoppers, Amazon stressed in Tuesday’s announcement that Oscar de la Renta’s team will be able to independently make decisions about product assortment, pricing, delivery options and even customer service. 

Amazon’s Luxury Stores also features a 360-degree virtual fitting room that allows shoppers to see items on different body types and various skin tones. A similar feature is already available through Prime Wardrobe, a free try-on program that gives customers more flexibility—and Amazon a treasure trove of data about what its users like and dislike.

But make no mistake, just because it’s an Amazon store doesn’t mean just anyone can shop there. The Luxury Stores will initially be invite-only to select Prime members, Amazon said, and more invitations will be extended to other users over time.

Amazon’s Risky Bid: Invite-Only Luxury Fashion Shopping