On Amazon’s jobs site, nearly 450 positions containing the keyword fashion are currently open, for positions from brand managers for its private label or plus size categories to fashion features editor or merchant manager.
Amazon is serious about fashion and the job postings are only one indicator of that. When Amazon reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and sales on Thursday, it also referenced the introduction of seven private-label apparel lines, from the Paris Sunday women’s line to the Buttoned Down men’s label, just for its Prime members.
Its newly released $199 Alexa-powered Echo Look allows users to take full-length pictures and videos hands free, a feature that is fashion-focused: It not only allows users to create a look book and share their outfits, it also can recommend brands and styles and act as a de-facto personal stylist offering style recommendations from a combination of machine learning and fashion specialists.
“Amazon management has called out its apparel business as a key growth driver multiple times over the past few years,” said a Morgan Stanley report. “It’s hard to deny the success the company has had to date…. Amazon is quickly gaining traction in apparel.”
Amazon is now the No. 2 US apparel retailer, generating $20.3 billion in clothing gross merchandise value and garnering a 7.4% share of the overall 2016 US apparel market, according to the Morgan Stanley study. Only Walmart had a bigger share, at 8.1%. The study also showed that Amazon’s growing share came at the expense of Target and department stores including Macy’s, Kohl’s Corp., JC Penney and Sears, many of which have announced store closing plans following declining comparable sales. (Walmart’s share also grew albeit just slightly.)
Apparel sales by internet retailers, led by Amazon, rose $6.1 billion in 2016, an increase of nearly 17%, the report said, citing Euromonitor data. Department stores saw their sales decline by 5.5%, or $1.6 billion last year.
For Amazon, apparel alone is set to drive about 18% of its US forward gross merchandise value growth, the study finds. (Gross merchandise value measures total sales volume sold through the entire Amazon marketplace and includes third-party sales.)
The study included an online survey of 1,000 consumers that indicated Amazon is improving in terms of being perceived as fashionable. “We think that speaks to how Amazon’s fashion efforts are having an impact on consumer behavior and increasing their willingness to shop for fashion on the site, which over time could lead to even faster apparel growth,” Morgan Stanley analysts said.
Amazon has been aggressive upping its fashion quotient, including making presence in Fashion Week runway shows, advertising on TV, and offering a live-streaming fashion show. Meanwhile, it has hired staffers from publications including Vogue and People StyleWatch. On social sites, Amazon prominently promotes upscale items, including a $395 black dress from actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s SJP Collection.