Here’s How Amazon Is Trying to Convince Everyone It’s a Fashion Company

Alexandra Mondalek

Amazon Fashion, the apparel arm of the tech giant, announced Tuesday on its website that it is launching Amazon Prime Wardrobe, a new benefit included in users’ Prime subscriptions.

Here’s how it works: Prime users pick three or more items across categories like clothes, shoes, and accessories to fill a box that’s shipped to your home. You’ve got a week to try on the items and decide whether you’ll keep anything. If you do keep them, you’re charged, and if you don’t, you can return what you don’t like for free — prepaid shipping labels are included.

The service is still in beta and has not yet officially launched, according to the Amazon company, which declined to say when the service would launch fully. Once it does, it’s likely to compete with existing subscription services like Stitchfix, where, for a fixed monthly price, shoppers can similarly purchase a handful of different items and return the ones they don’t like. (Services that are more specific but work in a similar way include Andie, for swimsuits, and Warby Parker, for glasses.)

More than anything, Amazon Prime Wardrobe is a way of encouraging people to try Amazon Fashion risk-free, especially since some fashion insiders, like blogger Brittany Wallace (@thebrittkit), say there’s a stigma about buying your clothes from a big-box retailer. Kind of how Bonobos fans reacted when they heard Walmart was buying that company. (Hint: Not well.)

Wallace, a Like to Know It Influencer, often posts photos on Instagram with captions indicating where she found her recent purchases. In one post, Wallace poses in a $26 bathing suit she purchased using Amazon Fashion, something she was skeptical about, but with the cheap price, she figured she didn’t have much to lose. (Wallace says her post was not sponsored by Amazon Fashion.)


Her followers took note of the Amazon Fashion tag right away, and that post was one of her top performing in terms of engagement. “I got so many DMs on the swimsuit, as well as friends reaching out asking me about it, solely because I bought it on Amazon,” she tells Yahoo Style. “They had the same questions that I did before purchasing, like ‘How is the quality? Is it true to size? What’s the fabric like? How are the colors? Does it really look like the image shown?'”

Think of Amazon approaching fashion the same way it approached film and TV. At first, Hollywood types scoffed at the idea that Amazon Studios would ever compete with award-winning studio behemoths. Today, Amazon Studios is a fixture at the Emmy Awards, and it’s stacking its bench with movie industry insiders like former Tribeca Film Festival director Genna Terranova.

In fashion, it’s much the same. Amazon recruited Kate Dimmock, the former director of People Stylewatch magazine, to lead its fashion team (Dimmock declined to be interviewed for this story). Amazon also purchased a table at this year’s Council of Fashion Designers Awards Show, the Oscars of fashion, and sponsored Tokyo Fashion Week. And, most recently, it partnered with athlete-turned-fashionista Dwyane Wade to sell his existing sock, clothing, and tie collections.

Amazon’s other fashion experiments include the Amazon Echo Look Virtual Stylist (like the name suggests, a virtual voice-activated stylist to offer help getting dressed), which is still in beta, and in March it rolled out an Outfit Compare feature within the Amazon Shopping app.

To be sure, the company is dipping its toes carefully in the fashion pond, since not everything on the Amazon Fashion front has been a roaring success. Style Code Live, for example, the company’s online “QVC-like” talk show, was shuttered a year after its premiere.

An Amazon spokesperson says it already has tens of millions of Prime subscribers in the U.S. alone, meaning all it has to do is convince shoppers it can be a go-to over other fashion-focused e-commerce sites like Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, and 24 Sevres, not to mention one of the many thousands of smaller Internet retailers.

A daunting task, but two-day shipping and free returns help.

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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.