Amazon, the world's largest internet retailer, has started selling more fashion and clothing, and expressed a desire to attract luxury brands to its site. Analysts say some high-end labels may want to retain control over where their products are sold. But after Mulberry became the latest luxury brand to warn on profit, labels may look for new ways to reach consumers. Joanna Partridge reports.
Buying luxury used to mean visiting boutiques. Now even high-end products are just a click away. Amazon is best known for its low-priced books, DVDs and toiletries. But it's looking to get a piece of the fashion market. The world's largest internet retailer started selling more fashion and clothing this year. Amazon.com says it has signed up hundreds of high-end brands - like U.S. designers Calvin Klein and Trina Turk. But analysts say it would need to persuade more prestigious names on to the site to entice big-spending consumers. Shannon Edwards is Managing Director of Vestiaire Collective, a website which sells second-hand luxury fashion. SOUNDBITE: Shannon Edwards, Managing Director of Vestiaire Collective, saying (English): "Amazon's a very smart company and an efficient platform, so if they want to go into different areas, luxury being one of them, I've no doubt that they can. What luxury brands are looking for is quality, authenticity, and an environment that allows a user who is going to spend thousands of pounds or dollars, the opportunity to feel comfortable doing so. So if they can achieve that, then the opportunity is there." Fashion is one of the fastest growing retail categories online - making it an enticing prospect. Amazon just reported its first quarterly net loss in five years - due to heavy spending and the economic slowdown in Europe. Exclusivity is key for luxury brands. Louis Vuitton has been reported as saying they're the only ones who will sell their products. But Shannon Edwards thinks luxury brands would be wrong to completely dismiss selling on Amazon or elsewhere online. SOUNDBITE: Shannon Edwards, Managing Director of Vestiaire Collective, saying (English): "Online is an inevitable opportunity for luxury brands, they have to embrace it, and they have slowly, they've embraced social media, they're doing their best to embrace that opportunity within the confines again of an environment that doesn't necessarily allow them to control the product and the brand the way that they should." Amazon's desire to sell high-end brands may be mutually beneficial. On Tuesday, Mulberry became the latest luxury firm to issue a profit warning. As firms like Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Gucci say sales growth is slowing in Asian markets, top brands may increasingly embrace online.