Amazon-owned online retailer of apparel and accessories Zappos hired former creative director of Vogue André Leon Talley as artistic director of its luxury division Zappos Couture this week. Talley will oversee fashion shoots and create a web magazine to lure in luxury shoppers.
Zappos boasts being the world’s largest shoe store and carries over 1,000 brands. More than 100 are luxury, but Zappos has failed to become a main destination for buying luxury products. That’s in part due to the wide range it carries, from Nine West (priced at $40 to $180) to Ferragamo (priced above $500). In addition to a vague price point, the site lacks a target audience. It carries Naturalizer, which manufactures comfortable shoes associated with middle aged to older women, alongside Dolce Vita, a brand adopted by trendy youth. Zappos has the same signature as its parent company Amazon; it is an everything store that promotes no particular image or lifestyle. While that might be a good strategy overall, it can be problematic for selling luxury.
In our 2013 Digital IQ Index: Fashion report, we talk about the perceived threat of Amazon to Fashion brands. (We are also hosting a clinic about Amazon in New York City on January 23.) A few players have embraced Amazon’s move into luxury apparel and accessories; Michael Kors and Kate Spade have their own digital stores within the site. The pros of that approach are better presentation and the ability to showcase a brand next to items for sale.
Amazon is close to finishing the development of a 40,000-square-foot space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn designated for photo and video shoots. The e-commerce giant seems to know what it takes to become successful at selling luxury fashion. Perhaps, if its subsidiary’s year-long contract with Talley goes well, we can expect Amazon to hire a celebrity editor to give it a voice as it moves forward with its plan to add luxury to the list of markets it dominates.