PICA #110

Lady Gaga terminates cosmetics deal with Amazon.

Fashion wannabe.

Amazon thinks that convenience is the new luxury. I don’t.

If Amazon were a city it would be Milton Keynes, not Paris. Amazon is practical, convenient, cost/effort-effective. Luxury fashion is the exact opposite. However, in its continuing quest to be all things to all people Amazon has opened its online Luxury Stores in UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. A US-only version was launched back in 2020.

First, the name. It ain’t chic, it’s painfully generic and the word stores is utilitarian, people buy hammers and chicken feed in a store, not frocks with three zero price tags. Luxury Stores is a bland category descriptor, not a brand.
Second, the names: Elie Saab, BOGLIOLI, RIANNA + NINA, Mira Mikati, Dr Barbara Sturm, Peter Dundas, Christopher Kane and Altuzarra are not hugely famous or desirable brands.
Third, the experience. Shopping for designer clothing and accessories is a hedonistic, emotion-first experience - again think Paris, not Milton Keynes. Digital fashion retail is certainly a thing, but the curation and elegance that leading fashion brands put into their online experience are completely beyond anything Amazon has ever done.
Fourth, is the halo effect. Imagine this conversation.
“What a gorgeous dress!”
“Thanks! It’s a Peter Dundas.”
“Where did you get it?”
“Luxury Stores.”
“Oh… you mean, Amazon?”
“Errr… yeah, but they have a great returns policy.”
I’m sorry, but the Amazon brand in luxury fashion is akin to a massive coffee stain on your blue suede Versace shoes.

In the name of fair balance here is the gushing opinion of Akiko Takashima, Peter Dundas’s chief marketing officer, “Amazon has shown that convenience is the new luxury, we used to look at Amazon as a marketplace for household goods. But now, with its strong returns policy, there is a new confidence around buying big-ticket items there.”
Dundas has been selling through the US Luxury Stores since 2020 and as they are a part of the EU launch it must be working well for them.

Not everyone is happy with Amazon though. In related news, just last month Lady Gaga took her beauty brand away from the world’s biggest online retailer. Three years ago, Lady Gaga created Haus Laboratories, a cosmetics brand sold exclusively through Amazon. At the time Amazon was keen to establish itself as a brand incubator and heavily promoted the Haus brand. However, sales have been ‘meh’ and to add salt to the wound since Haus’s launch various influencers and celebrities have created their own cosmetics brands direct-to-consumer or through partnerships with retailers like Sephora and have been far more successful. Haus Laboratories will be relaunched at Sephora later this year.

Gaga’s brand was the first and only major beauty line to sell exclusively on Amazon. It could well be the last. The reason is simple, beauty and fashion thrive in a Parissien boutique and die in a Milton Keynes warehouse.