Amazon’s push in fashion has it gaining steam in apparel, but so far it’s mostly in basics.
According to e-commerce research firm One Click Retail, October apparel sales on Amazon grew 5 percent versus a year earlier and 85 percent compared with September.
One Click analyst Jeff Brown said Halloween costumes led the growth for the month, accounting for an estimated $21 million in sales and 27 percent in the total lift in apparel month-over-month.
Outside of costumes, the men’s category in October saw “very strong growth,” said Brown, who has worked at Target and Overstock.com.
Amazon is still largely seen as a destination for functional basics, with popular items including Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jeans and workwear items such as Dickies overalls and Carhartt hoodies.
In September, back-to-school shopping fueled the number-two growth category of shoes, with athletic shoes accounting for more than $28 million in sales.
One Click Retail has been tracking Amazon sales data since 2015 and found that, compared with other categories that are experiencing “explosive” growth, apparel growth has been “relatively flat.”
“Although Amazon had a big push for luxury goods, the mainstays, such as underwear, socks, jeans, workout apparel and sporting goods, are doing the best,” said One Click’s managing partner Spencer Millerberg, who previously worked at both Wal-Mart and Amazon.
Amazon has made attempts at attracting luxury retailers, but it’s struggled to gain significant traction. Recently, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said that the company would not do business with Amazon in its existing business model.
“Amazon has been described as the ‘mall of the mess,’ and when you take a look at it, that’s probably a fair statement,” Millerberg said. “It’s the same reason that Wal-Mart has struggled. It’s not the destination that customers think of first, and not the way they shop, either.”
Millerberg said it was an awareness problem.
“They didn’t have the brand and the product two years ago, and one year ago they didn’t have the platform to support it; now, they have an awareness issue,” he said.
But potential competitors are certainly aware. Gap Inc. chief executive officer Art Peck told shareholders in May that he was open to selling on Amazon and not considering it was “delusional.”
Some experts anticipate that Amazon will experiment with a physical retail space in the form of a pop-up shop or sample shop to build awareness of Amazon apparel. Amazon has also slowly started rolling a number of lines of in-house apparel.
“It’s the same thing as everything Amazon does,” said Millerberg. “They launched private brands of baby wipes and now they are the number-three brand in the space. They’ve done it in hundreds of different categories, but I don’t know if they will be able to make those same in roads [in apparel].”