businessRetail

Amazon launches ‘Luxury Stores’ with Oscar de la Renta as its first designer

The luxury business was slow to initially go digital but has rapidly moved online after Neiman Marcus and others did the heavy lifting.

Wondering what Amazon might be tackling next? The online retailer announced Tuesday that it’s launching its “Luxury Stores” with Oscar de la Renta as its first designer brand.

Luxury Stores is launching with some exclusivity, which has always been a characteristic of upscale branding. Eligible Prime members in the U.S. are the first to be invited by email. Prime members can request an invitation, and more people will be added over time, Amazon said.

Luxury Stores aspires to offer more brands, and if it does, Amazon will be going head to head with Neiman Marcus, which already has more than 30% of its annual sales online. The Dallas-based department store probably has the largest collection of luxury brands online today, including Oscar de la Renta.

Amazon is going after a segment that was slow to initially go digital but has rapidly moved online after Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and others did the heavy lifting.

Some product presentations will be interactive, using Amazon’s View in 360 technology. In the Luxury Stores, brands sell directly to shoppers and make decisions independently of Amazon on inventory selection and pricing. Amazon provides the brands with the merchandising tools.

Amazon launched its "Luxury Stores" on Sept. 15, with Oscar de la Renta as its first designer brand. The online retailing giant says more are coming.
Amazon launched its "Luxury Stores" on Sept. 15, with Oscar de la Renta as its first designer brand. The online retailing giant says more are coming.(Amazon)

Oscar de la Renta will open with apparel, handbags, jewelry, accessories and a new perfume. Children’s clothing is coming soon. Shoppers will receive early access to the fall/winter collection, which is currently only available in Oscar de la Renta’s boutiques and website.

“We are always listening to and learning from our customers, and we are inspired by feedback from Prime members who want the ability to shop their favorite luxury brands in Amazon’s store,” said Christine Beauchamp, president of Amazon Fashion.

Amazon hired Beauchamp three years ago from Boston Consulting Group, where she was a senior adviser. Her experience includes executive positions at Ralph Lauren, Ann Inc., Victoria’s Secret, L Brands and Goldman Sachs.

“It’s still Day One, and we look forward to growing Luxury Stores, innovating on behalf of our customers, and opening a new door for designers all over the world to access existing and new luxury customers,” Beauchamp said.

Alex Bolen, CEO of Oscar de la Renta, said he moved forward with Amazon because it’s “a global leader in retail” and “has a relentless focus on improving the customer experience through constant innovation, utilizing technology and customer feedback.”

Meghan Markle wore an Oscar de la Renta gown in 2018.
Meghan Markle wore an Oscar de la Renta gown in 2018. (Paul Edwards / AP)

“We admire Amazon’s customer-centric focus and look forward to telling our brand’s story in compelling and engaging ways to even more customers through the Luxury Stores experience,” Bolen said.

Amazon is already a top apparel seller, but it’s mostly known for basics, not high fashion. It has likely gained some market share during the pandemic. A Coresight Research report that polled consumers in late February said 70% of apparel shoppers had purchased clothing or footwear on Amazon in the past 12 months. That was up from 60% the prior year.

Last year, Amazon sold 11.1% of online apparel sales, according to Digital Commerce 360, and together with Walmart (10.6%) and Target (9.6%) represented 31.3% of online apparel sales and 26% of total apparel sales.

Among apparel retailers online, department stores including Plano-based J.C. Penney, which had online sales in 2019 of $1.5 billion, dominated the last year’s list, according to Digital Commerce 360.

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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Maria Halkias, Staff writer. Maria Halkias has covered the retail scene for The Dallas Morning News since 1993.

mhalkias@dallasnews.com /maria.halkias @MariaHalkias Instagram Iconmariahalkias LinkedIn Iconhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/MariaHalkias
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