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Editor's Comment: Is Amazon about to shake up the fashion sector?

This week speculation mounted that the launch of Amazon’s own fashion brands is imminent. It feels like it has been a long time coming, and I’m sure the industry is waiting with bated breath to see what impact it has on the market.

Until now, Amazon Fashion’s marketing campaigns have been largely aimed at the younger market, using bloggers such as Susie Bubble, Samar Seraqui de Buttafoco and Hana Tajima in last year’s #SaySomethingNice campaign. But rumour has it that its own-label ranges will target the mid-market customer, in the hopes of stealing market share from high street stalwarts such as Marks & Spencer and Next.

To me, that makes much more sense. Fast fashion etailers such as Asos, Boohoo and Missguided have saturated the 18-to-34-year-old consumer market. A mid-market offer from Amazon could really appeal to the customer who has become slightly disenchanted with the current high street offer.

Amazon’s hires to date back up this strategy. It appointed former M&S womenswear boss Frances Russell around a year ago to spearhead the own-label push. She has now been joined by another M&S heavyweight, Karen Peacock, in the role of design director. And this week we can also reveal that Primark’s director of menswear buying Glen George – who started his career at M&S – is leaving to take up a role at Amazon. It is building up an impressive team. 

Many of the the big mid-market players have faced a tough time developing fit-for-purpose online propositions because they have had to untangle legacy systems. Amazon will be able to capitalise on its strengths: most notably, its delivery offer. 

In December, Amazon launched a new menswear label called Buttoned Down in the US, which was exclusively available for members of its Prime service. Giving customers the option to join Amazon Prime for £79 a year and enjoy free next-day (and, in some cases, same-day) delivery puts the etailer well ahead of the high street. Few retailers have been able to compete with Amazon’s willingness to plough more and more money into its operations, apparently regardless of the impact on its bottom line.

Although not necessarily known as the place to shop for fashion, what Amazon does have is customers – bundles of them. It has won the Consumer Choice category at Drapers Digital Awards every year since 2012, proving that customers still think of it as the number one place to shop online. If Amazon gets its own-label fashion product right, it will shake up the whole industry.

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