Amazon: Tech giant. Online marketplace. Fashion empire?

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Since its founding in 1994, the e-commerce giant Amazon has revolutionized the way we shop for electronics, household items, books, and more. With products ranging from the most popular to the most obscure, and widely seen as a one-stop shop for almost all consumer goods. Amazon's foray into the apparel market is a continuation of this trend.

The online retailer's share of the U.S. apparel market is expected to grow from 5% in 2015 to 14% by 2020, based on recent research from Cowen Company. That means within two years; Amazon is poised to become the largest seller of apparel in the U.S., overtaking Macy's as the top seller and outpacing companies like Target and Walmart by a considerable margin. 

But Amazon is doing more than serve as an aggregator for other fashion brands. In the same way, the Kindle changed the e-book industry, and Alexa has democratized artificial intelligence, Amazon's innovative approach to fashion is looking to marry the ideals of an existing industry (apparel) with the convenience and affordability for which the company is known.  Amazon has put a significant investment in developing its in-house fashion brands, which range from essential articles of clothing to hyper-stylish items inspired by the runway. 

Over the past few years, Amazon has launched more than 50 fashion labels for men, women, and children. Some of Amazon's new fashion brands include the following:

1.    Lark & Ro: Trendy dresses and other attire for the workplace, offered in neutral colors and providing wardrobe staples for any professional woman.

2.    Daily Ritual: A casualwear brand, including leggings, hoodies, and tees, with most pieces or packages priced at under $30. 

3.    Paris Sunday: Dresses and tops for the fashion-forward consumer, with versatile items worn in a variety of formal and informal settings. Most dresses priced between $15 and $60.

4.    Amazon Essentials: Exactly what it sounds like; essential items including basic polo shirts, shorts, women's intimates, and more.

5.    Scout + Ro: Inexpensive, colorful kids' styles including shirts and pants.

6.    Buttoned Down: A collection of dress shirts for men, with prices starting at $3

 

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Most of the styles cost under $100, a fraction of the price of many designer brands. Interestingly, these brands are only available for Amazon Prime members, drawing on the exclusivity that makes top fashion labels so appealing. This additional benefit could drive even more consumers to join Prime for access to the convenience, availability, and affordability of these brands.             

Notably, Amazon's online marketplace has often been blamed for the decline of brick and mortar stores, even as it has changed the face of e-commerce and enabled a greater diversity of choice as well as convenience. With versatile brands, unique algorithms for recommending products, straightforward delivery, and return policy. Combined with their affordable prices, and ease of searching for items, they've quickly become a force in the marketplace. Amazon is a technology as well as a merchandiser--and as Amazon takes its style cues from the fashion industry, fashion retailers are learning and adapting from Amazon's sales approaches to increase their success.