Effective next week, Amazon’s Sharon Chiarella will become a Stitch Fixer, joining the personal styling service as its new chief product officer, the company said Tuesday.
Chiarella brings 13 years of experience from Amazon, where she ran many of its high-profile customer experiences, to her new position. She will be responsible for the “Product & Experience” organization, overseeing the product, design and technical teams that drive the fashion purveyor’s key personalized discovery and convenience model.
Stitch Fix president Elizabeth Spaulding said in a statement that Chiarella’s “deep technical talent and incredible experience building highly effective, beloved consumer experiences at scale will be a huge asset to our business today, and as we reimagine shopping for everyone.”
The official start date is March 29.
Chiarella’s move comes at a pivotal moment in retail, as a year of lockdown frustration and economic anxiety give way to optimism as more vaccines roll out. The National Retail Federation believes sales will jump as much as 8.2 percent above last year, amounting to some $4.4 trillion. For fashion businesses, in particular, anticipation runs high that pent-up demand will unleash a surge of apparel and footwear shopping.
The lifting of restrictions would certainly help traffic in brick-and-mortar retail directly, but the gains may run across the board, as the public returns to offices, social activities and special events.
Of course, that may come with a few wrinkles, including potential bottlenecks from supply chain, fulfillment and shipping, not to mention the challenges of competing in a crowded — and intensely hungry — playing field. The cacophony could make it hard for brands and stores to stand out.
Stitch Fix seems focused on addressing both sides of this equation. On the back end, the company has been reshuffling its staffing and warehousing strategies for months, and out in front, the addition of Chiarella points to a deeper focus on the consumer experience.
As Amazon’s vice president of community shopping, Chiarella was in charge of areas such as user reviews, deals, gifting and wish lists, among others, and drove some of the marketplace’s most notable consumer experiences, including customer videos, Q&As, one-tap star ratings and social shopping features like chat within Prime Video watch parties.
Her new employer sees her hiring as helpful for positioning Stitch Fix “to capture share amidst the ongoing shift in the retail landscape,” according to the announcement.
Notably, the move may also suggest that any rivalries between the e-commerce titan and the unicorn, which both companies have downplayed for years, are actually alive and well.
Stitch Fix has long promoted its data-driven approach to personalization and discovery as a blend of machines and algorithms with human styling. Amazon, a tech giant ever in pursuit of fashion commerce, has been dabbling in clothing preferences and recommendations for quite some time. But it remains to be seen if the latter, now the U.S.’ top-selling apparel retailer according to Wells Fargo, can spin its pandemic-driven success in basics into post-COVID-19 fashion acceleration.
Spaulding seemed unfazed by the coming retail shift or whatever potential competitive pressures come with it. “We are very confident about the opportunity ahead for Stitch Fix, and our unique personalization platform,” she said. “This is just the beginning for Stitch Fix, and bringing talent like Sharon into our team is a great endorsement for our approach, and speaks to the strength of our vision.”