Amazon Launches Its Official Foray Into High Fashion With Common Threads

Martin Lerma

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E-commerce behemoth Amazon has been toying with the idea of selling authentic high-fashion through its channels for some time. But now, thanks in part to the crushing economic impact of Covid-19, it has officially entered that sphere.

Amazon has just launched Common Threads in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue. This storefront on its website is a marketplace offshoot of A Common Thread, the CFDA initiative launched as a way to triage the fashion industry as the pandemic ravaged sales and largely halted business. The chief objective is to provide a means for designers to generate income for the pandemic’s duration.

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“I’m thrilled to announce this partnership, and want to thank Amazon Fashion, not only for its generous support of A Common Thread, but also for so quickly sharing its resources to aid American designers affected by the pandemic,” said Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, and US artistic director and global content advisor of Condé Nast, in a statement. “While there isn’t one simple fix for our industry, which has been hit so hard, I believe this is an important step in the right direction.”

At launch, the site has stocked 20 designers with more expected to partake in the coming weeks. The selection is a mix of well-known designers in the field and those still getting their footing. However, none of the current roster represents the industry’s upper echelon––though that could soon change if the experiment proves successful. Interestingly, most have price points that skew toward the mid-range, with many pieces hovering around $300. There are notable exceptions, though, such as Brock Collection with its $1,071 cashmere sweater and other equally luxe offerings.

As part of the deal, Amazon has agreed to donate $500,000 to A Common Thread, a meaningful sum but only a tiny fraction of the $2.5 billion of net income it reported for the first three months of this year. “The CFDA is grateful for Amazon’s very generous support,” said Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA, in a statement. “The $500,000 donation to A Common Thread allows us to increase the number of micro-grants for brands impacted by Covid-19. Additionally, ‘Common Threads: Vogue x Amazon Fashion’ provides a much-needed retail destination to introduce designers faced with existing inventory to new consumers.”

Of course, this collaboration doesn’t merely benefit the CFDA and its designer membership. Amazon has been battling an image problem for years, stemming from the sale of counterfeit luxury goods on its platform and a generally lackluster interface. Sources reported that the company was strategizing about how to move forward when it was revealed that an Amazon-owned website called VRSNL (pronounced “versional”) started selling top-tier designer brands all the way back in September of 2019. In addition to that surreptitious entree, this new move could mean that Jeff Bezos’s ambitions to conquer fashion are well under way.

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