Amazon Prime Day is underway, and while there are deals to be had on everything from tech to luggage to area rugs, Amazon didn’t highlight juicy deals in one department: fashion.
There are plenty of apparel and accessories marked down for Prime Day, Amazon’s annual “Black Friday in July” where it marks down coveted items on its site in an attempt to get new users to sign up for its Prime service. This year, you can find savings of up to 50 percent if you’re a Prime member on “Prime Exclusive” clothing, meaning Amazon’s own private label brands like Ella Moon and Coastal Blue; Athletic wear by Under Armour and Adidas are marked down by as much as 30 percent.
Amazon has sold clothes on its site for years, but in 2015 launched its Amazon Fashion team, tasked with enticing shoppers of the Instagram age to flock to its site for trendy finds. Amazon brought on former People StyleWatch director Kate Dimmock and Vogue editor Caroline Palmer to lead the team, which has launched a handful of new endeavors to generate buzz.
In June, Amazon Fashion announced a try before you buy service, allowing shoppers to pay only for items they decide to keep; The team released a beta version of the Amazon Echo Look, an at-home virtual stylist that helps you decide which outfit looks best on you; It teamed up with NBA star and fashionisto Dwyane Wade to sell Wade’s accessories; Amazon is developing a robotic mannequin that allows users to change its sizes to see how clothes would fit before you buy; And the team has also beefed up its in-house clothing brands, launching eight in the last year.
But shoppers don’t see any of that when they visit the Amazon Fashion site on Prime Day. Instead, the homepage banner touts 30 percent off select items, and only the brands Levi’s, Aldo, Calvin Klein, and every dad’s favorite shoe brand, New Balance, are emphasized on the page. Truthfully, it’s not the kind of stuff that would leave your Instagram followers seething with envy. What’s more, an email sent to Prime subscribers hardly mentioned any apparel deals, noting instead discounts on gaming systems, tablets, and lawn mowers.
So, for all the work that Amazon Fashion is doing to make itself more attractive to Millennial shoppers with an eye for coveted name brand goods, it doesn’t really promote any of that on its site on Prime Day. More strikingly, Amazon Fashion hasn’t posted a single thing about Prime Day on its Instagram page, an increasingly important platform for stores and brands trying to connect with young shoppers. The Amazon Fashion team could not be reached immediately for comment.
According to Babson College business professor Peter Cohan, Amazon seizes Prime Day as an opportunity to feature the company’s innovations to convince shoppers a Prime membership is worth the $99 expense is worthwhile. So, why isn’t Amazon Fashion doing just that? It’s a missed opportunity, Cohan says.
“My understanding is that Amazon is making inroads in fashion online — for example, selling women’s intimate apparel online — which is a more comfortable experience for consumers than purchasing those products in a retail store. By highlighting this service on Prime Day, Amazon could likely win new customers — so not doing so could cost it significant revenues,” Cohan tells Yahoo Style.
It’s not that Amazon Fashion didn’t have any real Fashion — Capital F — deals on Prime Day. It does! But you have to really search for them. A Chanel watch originally priced at $5,487 is marked down to $4,514, saving shoppers 18 percent. (Gucci watches on the site aren’t marked down.) Select colors of a pair of Badgley Mishka embellished peep-toe pumps that retail for $245 are on sale for $127 for Prime Day. Those shoes are marked down on the Badgley Mischka site as well, but for $199.
Unfortunately, it’s not all Marc Jacobs and Moschino for Prime Day. In fact, luxury duds make up a relatively small fraction of items listed on Amazon Fashion, according to a site search. You’re more likely to find a deal on affordable, or “accessible” luxury brands like Kate Spade and Rebecca Minkoff, though the term accessible luxury is a paradox in itself.
As it stands, the bread-and-butter Amazon shopper generally isn’t concerned with whether she can get her hands on the Instagram set’s favorite $710 Dior T-shirt, Amazon Fashion isn’t about to take on high-end e-tailers like Net-a-Porter or 24Sevres, and luxury brands are probably OK with that.
“I do not think that Net-a-Porter’s high-end luxury market is a good fit for Amazon,” Cohan says. “In theory consumers might like to get discounts from Amazon for luxury fashion, but I think services like Net-a-Porter would not want to sell their goods on Amazon because they would risk devaluing their brand — and getting consumers to expect to pay less.”
Instead, many Amazon Fashion shoppers are less likely to care about brand recognition, and more likely to hunt for a good deal. Frances Wang, a television news reporter in the Sacramento, Calif. area tells Yahoo Style that because she’s on camera often and doesn’t want to repeat outfits, she frequently checks Amazon Fashion for figure flattering dresses she can buy cheaply and in multiple colors.
Wang is such a fan of the ease Amazon Fashion offers that she tags it in her Instagram posts, and even started the hashtag “WangsWorkWear” to showcase the frocks she’s proud she found on the internet giant. Sometimes, Wang says she sacrifices quality with Amazon’s affordable prices.
“I sometimes have concerns when I look for a dress, and I’ve ordered the same dress in two different colors, they’ll arrive with different labels, and I get confused. Sometimes, the dress’s photo doesn’t always look like what I receive. But I guess it’s helpful when other people who have bought those items post reviews, and Amazon is really good about returns and customer service.”
Wang doesn’t often shop for designer goods, she says, but when she does, it’s not on Amazon Fashion. “My go-to for that is Nordstrom Rack. My mom always taught me that when it comes to value, it’s about quality, and there I find quality items for affordable prices.”
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.