View Slideshow

Designer brands, Amazon wants you.

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Internet behemoth will make a further aggressive push into the fashion realm today with the launch of an online store dedicated to Derek Lam’s 10 Crosby contemporary line. While Amazon has other brand stores across a variety of price points, this is the most elevated in terms of the level of fashion and the content as the e-tailer uses its vast resources of computer power, distribution centers and consumer-centric marketing to grow its footprint in the fashion world.
“We want to raise our own bar for presentation and innovation around the shopping experience, and partnerships like this one that elevate the whole experience give her content that she might not have [received] otherwise, and immerse and shop the brand in a way that she can’t today,” said Cathy Beaudoin, president of Amazon Fashion.

RELATED STORY: Amazon.com Debuts First TV Ad >>

She called the commerce channel opportunity “our new bar” — and one that Amazon will try and meet as often as possible, as long as it’s a brand that customers want to “go deeper with.”

The destination at amazon.com/10crosby differs from those operated by e-tailers such as Yoox Group, which runs monobrand businesses for brands such as Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Marni and Ermenegildo Zegna. Yoox operates those designer boutiques anonymously, and does not own the inventory. The 10 Crosby store will be completely run by Amazon with input from Lam on the look of the store and its online content.

Still, the 10 Crosby store is another indication that Amazon is increasingly serious about grabbing a bigger piece of the fashion pie. The launch of theplatform service follows Amazon’s decision to lease a 40,000-square-foot space in Williamsburg, in Brooklyn,  N.Y., that will serve as a photo studio and will open later this year, as well as its first television commercial dedicated to fashion that aired March 4.

Beaudoin said, “We have been accelerating all of our efforts, time and attention in this space because there’s so much to do here. It’s so ripe for innovation, and if we can give customers a beautiful, branded 10 Crosby experience — and couple it with the ease of shopping on Amazon and all the service that our customer relies on — it’s a genius combination.”

As Amazon further evolves its fashion offering, the grip it has on e-commerce and mobile commerce is sure to tighten. Over one third of all m-commerce transactions, the fastest growing channel in retail, already occur on Amazon, and the e-tail giant posted 2012 net sales of $61.09 billion.

When asked which retailers might loom as competition for Amazon Fashion’s burgeoning business, which includes MyHabit and Shopbop, Beaudoin insisted that Amazon doesn’t think in term of competition. The site starts with the customer — what she calls the e-tailer’s “true north” — and, whether it’s a TV spot or a photo studio, she contends that the company understands how its consumer shops.

“Were trying to create a beautiful, easy fashion destination, a place that you think to go to first and you prefer. It’s not about online or offline. We know customers shop in many ways. [They] research online and shop offline [or vice versa],” Beaudoin said, adding that the nature of Amazon’s objective isn’t geared toward a competitive set. “It’s oriented to the fact we have rabidly loyal customers, and we want to offer them every category they want to buy. This whole initiative is about taking them there.”

Retailers have long been nervous about Amazon turning its attention to the fashion world because its size and expertise have the potential for it to be as disruptive as it’s been to the book industry.

Amazon’s capabilities were an obvious reason as to why Lam formed a partnership with the company. “I’m fascinated by this idea of leading a ‘contemporary life.’ Today, digital is deeply integrated into how we consume and engage with the world around us. Working with Amazon Fashion gave me the freedom to translate our brand into an e-commerce experience that isn’t just about selling our product, but about telling our story to customers,” Lam said of the partnership.

E-commerce is an integral aspect to the designer’s contemporary collection, which retails from $225 to $695 — and according to Derek Lam chief executive officer Jan Schlottmann, “one-click shopping” was the goal for the initiative.

Comparing the online business of the main collection and 10 Crosby, Schlottmann drew a distinction between each. Thirty percent of 10 Crosby’s wholesale business is online at sites like Shopbop, Barneys New York and Net-a-porter. This is twice the amount of the collection’s online wholesale presence.

“We can give Amazon the value of the brand — and they give us the rest,” Schlottmann said in an interview at the brand’s Crosby Street headquarters in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. “But we needed to create it in a contained space and in the world of 10  Crosby.”

He cited the rapidly changing life of women today versus a decade ago, acknowledging that female consumers are always online — either browsing, shopping or both — and this is an opportunity to appeal to them.

In addition to the commerce component, the channel will contain editorial content such Julie Gilhart conducting a candid interview with Lam or a profile with 10 Crosby design director Liz Giardina, said Schlottmann.

The brand’s Amazon store will see about 10 deliveries a year, including a capsule collection for holiday, as well as an active social media presence and content that’s updated regularly.

“It’s a 10 Crosby destination on Amazon. It’s a little boutique that’s integrated into our store like a shop within a shop. It’s a model for how we want to partner with brands going forward. It’s our maiden voyage with this brand, and we’re all really [pleased]  about it. It’s feeling really good,” Beaudoin said.

Clarification: The 10 Crosby shop on Amazon.com is a partnership with Derek Lam to highlight the brand on Amazon, under which Amazon owns the inventory and runs the store. It is not a freestanding monobrand store or new channel of business for Amazon. This was unclear in the version of this article that ran on page one of the paper, Thursday.

View Slideshow