Amazon is already the biggest online clothing retailer in the U.S., thanks to the huge volumes of affordable basics and private label items it ships. Not content with conquering the mass market, the internet giant now wants to dominate the more upmarket end of the fashion spectrum, and is rolling out an international ad campaign to boost its style credentials.
The exclusive world of runway fashion may not be a natural fit with Amazon's high turnover, heavy discount culture, but the film, by four-year-old independent shop Joint London, cleverly weaves designer clothing and uncompromising style into a story that is unashamedly Amazon. It's breaking this week in the U.S. and started airing last week in Europe.
Fashion models dressed in new season styles carry Amazon packages to urban, suburban and rural addresses, strutting to each delivery as if parading the length of a runway at New York Fashion Week.
In a move that looks to be elevating Amazon's "smile" logo to the status of the Nike "tick," the U.S. version doesn't show the name of the company in the final frame, just the "smile" drawn under the words "Now delivering fashion."
The ad targets designers as well as customers, in an attempt to persuade a diverse audience that there is a place for Amazon in the world of fashion.
Many big names are already on board: designers including Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen and Kate Spade all feature on Amazon's U.S. site, where customers can also buy a $150,000 Cartier watch for next day delivery along with their books and DVDs.
The presence of more mid-market brands like French Connection, Levi's, and Esprit also helps to position Amazon as an alternative to the mall.
Brands can create their own storefronts and take control to an extent, although the design is still very much led by Amazon. Levi's has done this, and Arc Worldwide works with Procter & Gamble to create Amazon stores for its more upmarket brands around the world.
Ian Thomas, Arc's managing director in London, said, "The overall user experience is not as good as it might be right now – everything gets lumped in together so it's difficult to find the better stuff. It takes time to get to quality but I think it will come. Despite the experience being better elsewhere, Amazon is the preferred option for almost anyone, because you are already signed up with them. And for brands, there is an opportunity to leverage the data science that Amazon does so much better than anyone else."
Amazon's U.S. online apparel sales totaled more than $16 billion last year -- more than Macy's, Nordstrom, Kohl's, Gap, and Victoria's Secret parent L Brands combined -- according to Internet Retailer.
Even when bricks and mortar sales are included, Amazon still comes seventh in the rankings of U.S. apparel and accessories retailers. Its share of the U.S. market is expected to reach 19% by 2020, up from less than 7% in 2015, as reported by Bloomberg.
The company's rise to become a major apparel retailer has happened almost under the radar, but Amazon now appears to be more focused in its mission, building its fashion credentials by turning Amazon Fashion into a brand in its own right. (The company did not respond to questions about Amazon Fashion). This year Amazon sponsored Men's Fashion Week in New York and India Fashion Week, as well as renaming Tokyo Fashion Week, which is now known as Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo.