Amazon is streaming onto the runway with high-fashion TV

The ecommerce giant is entering new territory by mixing retail and television so seamlessly.


February 25, 2020

The unholy trinity of reality TV, chic apparel, and ecommerce just got some famous new faces.

On March 27, Amazon will roll out “Making the Cut,” a TV fashion competition hosted by “Project Runway” megastars Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. The show joins a string of “Project Runway” copycats like Netflix’s “Next In Fashion.”

But Amazon’s new show is only sort of about TV. At the end of each episode, customers will be able to buy the winning designs. Mostly, Amazon just wants to sell you expensive clothes.

Amazon is self-conscious about its normcore rep 

The company’s clothing division represents 29% of its ecommerce sales. But as the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Many of the apparel items sold are considered basic clothing, such as underwear and yoga pants.” 

The retailer hasn’t exactly won the affection of high-fashion honchos. Last month, the chair of the luxury-goods behemoth LVMH (which oversees swanky brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior) criticized Amazon for the proliferation of counterfeits on its platform.

The idea of using TV and movies to sell products isn’t new: Studios have collaborated with advertisers since at least the early ’80s, when a well-placed Reese’s Piece in the film E.T. led to a 65% jump in Hershey’s profits. 

But Amazon is entering new territory by mixing the 2 so seamlessly. Why pay a studio to advertise your clothes when you can be the studio and the retailer?

Move over, Dash buttons

Amazon’s recent past is littered with efforts to integrate online shopping even deeper into our subconscious.

But this time, the retail giant seems to be taking a cue from Instagram, which lets users buy products from brands like Kylie Cosmetics and Warby Parker without leaving the app. If it works with influencers, Amazon is reasoning, then of course it must work with 12 extremely stressed-out designers.

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