Amazon Still Can’t Sell Luxury Fashion

Yesterday, Manny Chirico, the CEO of PVH Corp, parent company of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, made it clear that his company’s earnings as of March 29 weren’t where they should be on Amazon. “It’s just not where it needs to be right now,” he said, calling Amazon’s fashion sales weak on both “metrics” and “presentation.”

Quartz’s Marc Bain reported on Amazon’s difficulties selling “design-driven and trendy” items. Even though the company sees a lot of success with basics such as t-shirts, undergarments and activewear, fashion sales remain elusive. And this makes sense, if you stop to think about how you use Amazon most often. It’s more for utilitarian purchases or, if you’re me, cheap jewelry.

In the story, Chirico is cited as saying that for PVH, a company that also owns brands like Van Heusen and Izod, “70% to 80% of [their] business on Amazon is core replenishment items, such as those plastic-wrapped multi-packs of underwear and t-shirts.”

In spite of Amazon wishlists being a very hot-ticket item for internet kids to include in their Twitter bios, marketing the site as a place to shop for, you know, a LOOK has proven to be difficult. As Quartz points out, they’ve made some very valiant efforts with an Amazon-branded line of womenswear, a live fashion TV show that didn’t quite pan out, and an enormous fashion photo studio in Tokyo, open this month.

But it’s hard to beat pure visuals, and the sterile efficiency of an Amazon product page doesn’t radiate luxury fashion or exclusivity. (Although, if you ask me, they could use this to their advantage with millennials who love irony.) In October 2016, the CFO of luxury conglomerate LVMH said there was “no way” it would do business with Amazon.

And yet, it’s clear these old-guard luxury fashion labels will have to make some sort of peace with Amazon and e-commerce. A retail research firm, One-Click Retail, found that Amazon’s apparel and shoe sales exceeded $8 billion in the U.S., a 25% increase from 2016. One-Click said that by the end of this year, Amazon is slated to become the largest clothing seller in the U.S. Maybe it’s time for Amazon x Louis Vuitton?


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