While Amazon under CEO Jeff Bezos has successfully muscled its way into just about every category of retailing, luxury has remained difficult for the e-commerce giant. High-end brands have been hesitant to put their wares on a marketplace that sometimes has counterfeit versions of their goods. They’ve also worried that it doesn’t feel terribly luxurious for their $1,000 jackets to be in a digital shopping cart alongside dish detergent and extension cords. This time, though, Luxury Stores is arriving amid a pandemic that has rattled shopper routines and brand strategies. If Amazon can’t get traction at this opportune moment, it might never be able to do so in this category — at least not on its own.
As part of its pitch, Amazon is giving luxury brands control over pricing and product assortment. That gives these labels incentive to try the new platform just as the old way of doing business is clearly crumbling. Some of the luxe set’s longtime partners are disappearing or on shaky ground. Barneys New York began liquidating even before the arrival of Covid-19. Once the pandemic hit, the resulting business shock led Nordstrom Inc. to close 16 stores and put Neiman Marcus Group in bankruptcy proceedings (it emerged only last month). While Lord & Taylor wasn’t much of a luxury destination by the time of its recent liquidation, its collapse sent warnings about what could befall other department-store chains.
It also helps that, earlier in the pandemic, Amazon partnered with Vogue and Council of Fashion Designers of America on a digital storefront that was meant to give a boost to independent designers who had been rocked by the crisis. Now that industry kingmaker Vogue effectively has given Amazon its blessing, perhaps that offers permission for luxury brands to do the same.
Luxury Stores will only