The newest Amazon original show, Making the Cut, brings back the iconic duo Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn for yet another incredible fashion competition. Klum and Gunn searched for designers from around the world whose brand might have what it takes to become the next global fashion brand. These 12 designers all currently have their own brands; their experience ranges anywhere from having shown at New York fashion week, to having collaborated with Adidas, to being completely self-taught, and everything in between. The winner of the competition receives $1 million and has the opportunity to launch their brand on Amazon. Additionally, the winning look of each runway show is available for purchase on Amazon in the Making the Cut store immediately following that episode. Could this finally be Amazon’s big step into the high fashion world?
It might surprise you to know, Amazon is the nation’s leading apparel retailer and according to estimates by Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley they topped $30 billion in sales last year. However, they have never been successful in breaking into the high fashion game. Amazon has been trying, with varying success, to revamp their fashion department with some big name designer brands for the last 5 plus years. For example, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Kate Spade, and more are already heavily represented on Amazon.
Then, in early January it leaked to WWD that Amazon plans to launch into luxury sometime this year. Analysts are skeptical to believe these claims, and many wonder what exactly is meant by “luxury” fashion. Retail analyst, Andre Lipsman, discussed why top names will be reluctant to Amazon retail: “They don’t want to dilute or devalue the luxury element of their brand, so it doesn’t make sense to have them sold alongside light bulbs and batteries” (Los Angeles Times). Because of this “cheapening” of the brand, Forbes finds it unlikely that Amazon will ever have access to the top luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Gucci, Burberry, etc. According to Forbes, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Versace, Coach, Stuart Weitzman, and Ralph Lauren are likely Amazon’s targeted brands for their “luxury” platform, since many of their accessories and fragrances are already available on the site. Amazon plans to set up a platform where these new brands would have their own “stores” within the Amazon site, similar to the Making the Cut store. According to Business Insider, this means that the brands will have more control over the style, appearance, and overall functioning of their own stores.
Having only just started airing on March 27th, Making the Cut seems to have already altered Amazon’s grasp on luxury fashion. So far, every designers’ look that has been featured in the store has sold out. Consumers are embracing Amazon’s first steps into high-end retail. And, that might not be the show’s only revolutionary contribution to the fashion industry. As Heidi Klum puts it, “For the first time, finally, our audience can shop.” Viewers see the winning looks walk the runway, then that same look can be hanging in their closet within the week. This could create a whole new era of runway shopping.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon may be the saving grace for many drowning retailers. Not to mention, luxury sales are way down from Q1 including names like Gucci who dropped 22% in first-quarter sales. BoF reports that the e-commerce giant has such an established platform and vast following that any struggling brand will be likely to reconsider partnering with Amazon, even luxury ones. If Amazon continues to have success, despite the global pandemic, they may finally reach a new level of fashion retail that they’ve been striving towards for years.
Link to the Making the Cut store on Amazon: