Amazon is going luxe, The New York Times tells us. The company is sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into selling haute fashion, and hopes to convince high-end brands that the book and electronics seller is a marketplace where fashionistas would come to drop a thousand bucks on a pair of shoes. To that end, tonight, it hosted the first-ever livestream of the fashion event of the year: the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala red carpet.
Amazon has been inching its way into high fashion since it bought ShopBop in 2006, which it smartly seems to have left to its own devices. It also bought Zappos and started shoe site Endless, and last year it launched flash sale site My Habit. Bezos tells The New York Times My Habit is closest to what their going for in terms of appealing to higher-end brands.
Already on board are Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood, Catherine Malandrino, Jack Spade and Tracy Reese. And in addition to livestreaming the Met Gala, Amazon sponsored the event and the accompanying exhibit.
Mr. Bezos, the event’s honorary chairman, said that he was advised by Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor, to wear a pink pocket square with a Tom Ford tuxedo (which is not available on Amazon). He did so.
While Amazon has profited by slashing prices in other categories, that won’t be the strategy for fashion, Bezos told the NYT. They hope to win by making huge buys—which are difficult for any brand to turn down—and reaping the high-margin rewards.
There are many disbelievers, given Amazon’s history in other industries. Mr. Bezos, moreover, has to deal with the fact that he is no fashion guy. Asked in the interview about the brands he was wearing, Mr. Bezos could not name the brands of his shirt or shoes, which he said he bought in New York years ago. The jeans, he said, were Prada (not available on Amazon); his blue “Jeff” security badge was dangling from them.
Not that that matters. The CEO of the largest fashion publishing empire wears chinos and a sweatshirt to work.
Update: I watched the Met Gala red carpet on Mr. Bezos’ livestream, and he did not appear to be wearing a pink pocket square. It appeared to be either black or white or black and white. See below: