Should retailers be worried? Amazon’s new fashion store has local designers excited


Just in time for Christmas, Amazon has thrown a spanner in the works for Australian fashion retailers, launching a new store stocking 150 Australian apparel and accessory brands.

The move, which comes just a month after it launched a pantry range with food and drinks, brings together a laundry list of well known and emerging local designers.

Local designers say Amazon has taken a keen interest in Aussie fashion under the leadership of Angela Langmann, head of fashion for the e-commerce giant Down Under, encouraging them to adopt a new path to market.

Merryn Kelly, founder of fashion label Third Form, says listing on the platform has been an empowering step for her business and is a signal of a broader shift in the Australian fashion industry.

“It’s a really exciting opening of a door for Third Form and for the general future of Australian fashion,” Kelly tells SmartCompany.

“The fashion industry has seen what Amazon is and the power of it in America, and that really brings exciting changes and reinvigorates the Australian landscape.”

Kelly says Amazon has been a highly collaborative partner so far and initial interest in Third Form’s products on its platform has been encouraging.

“For us, being in arms reach of the customer helps us as a business grow as well because we see buying behaviour, we know what’s working in the market directly.”

“It’s refreshing”

While good news for Amazon, the incursion on local fashion is a headwind for traditional department stores and other rag traders that have traditionally enjoyed fairly exclusive access to Aussie design talent.

The enthusiasm with which designers are flocking to the platform is a sign the local fashion market is looking for alternative paths to market.

Lauren Williams and Alex Knorr, founders of Australian hat label Will & Bear, say it’s encouraging to see a global business like Amazon supporting local designers.

“It’s refreshing, to be honest, you often wonder how you can get exposure sometimes, there’s so much noise going on,” Knorr tells SmartCompany.

“We can be way more agile in our business model with these platforms, we’re not stuck with a big department store order that has really strict terms.”

Will & Bear is a business focused on sustainability and Williams says Amazon was onboard with the values behind the label from the word go.

“This puts us in the mix with the world leaders in e-commerce, it’s been a really big confidence booster for us.”

Langmann, who has a 12-year history at Amazon working in the US and UK, said in a statement Amazon identified a desire for local brands on its platform.

“We are really excited to be empowering some brilliant homegrown talent by putting them front and centre on our Fashion store,” she said.

“We know Aussies love to shop local and we want to help them do just that with our Amazon Fashion 2018 Local Brand Award and The Local Fashion Store.”

Other brands on the platform include Croft, Jaggar, Local Supply, Novo, Silent Theory and Skin.

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