NEW YORK: High-end fashion labels like Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen and Trina Turk are adopting widely varying strategies regarding the prospect of working with Amazon, the ecommerce giant.
Amazon's move into this sector has eschewed its usual low price approach, instead focusing on its "flawless and reliable" experience, and pages looking like magazines, with models and editorial content.
"Price is not really a differentiation for us," Cathy Beaudoin, Amazon's president of fashion, told the Financial Times. "We maintain the pricing integrity that our brands have established and we don't break from that."
"Shopping for clothing is so different ... It's much more emotional, it's much more personal and I think it really requires more guidance, more insight, and it needs to be more fun and engaging. So that is what we sought to do here."
Some of the "hundreds" of brands now officially selling lines on Amazon include Jack Spade and Trina Turk, from the US, as well as Jean-Michel Cazabat, a French designer, and Scotch & Soda, from the Netherlands.
Beaudoin continued: "This is a transformative time in fashion and customers, more and more, expect to discover brands from all across the spectrum online."
Amazon is also in discussions with major players such as Ralph Lauren and Coach, alongside Burberry, Gucci and Prada. One area of appeal for potential partners could be Amazon's proven strength in leveraging user data.
"Every single day we monitor which brands are being searched for on our site, and that ... is incredibly compelling to, say, Gucci, to learn that millions of times a year [consumers] will come to Amazon and expect to buy a Gucci watch," said Beaudoin.
But Yves Carcelle, chief executive of Louis Vuitton, argued that Amazon may need to spend a "huge amount" if it was to make progress in this sector.
"What I know for sure is that Amazon will never sell Louis Vuitton, because we are the only ones that sell it," he added. "This is a model of direct control that we pioneered, and I think long term it is the direction most luxury ecommerce will take."
Hugo Boss, the German firm, would not count Amazon out, but is still developing its tactics. "As we continue to tighten control over the Hugo Boss ebusiness, we are also seeking to manage these important distribution channels more closely," a spokesman said.
Jonathan Akeroyd, CEO of Alexander McQueen, took a similar view. "It's very hard to keep up with the way ecommerce is changing ... and it would be naive to say we would absolutely never do anything ever with a company like Amazon," he added.
"That said, we are increasingly aware of the importance of brand identity online, and maintaining it at the highest levels, and that's where most of our focus is right now."
Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff