Amazon launches luxury clothing store with Oscar de la Renta collection

Amazon just took its latest stab at a “luxury experience” — and it involves shopping for pricey clothes on your phone.

The Seattle-based e-tailing giant — a go-to for diapers, kitchen utensils and e-books — has created a luxury fashion feature that will launch with a collection by the Oscar de la Renta label, whose founder famously outfitted first ladies including Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton.

Amazon’s new “store within a store” feature will be optimized for smartphones, enabling users to get 360-degree views of new looks — an experience that’s an upgrade from the usual, cluttered product pages that sell back-to-school essentials and pet supplies.

Luxury Stores at Amazon will first be offered by invitation only to “eligible” Prime members, the company said. Others who have not been invited can request an invitation to be “added to the wait list,” according to the web site.  

Amazon said the luxury stores will reveal more “well established” and “sought after emerging luxury brands” in the coming weeks, but didn’t mention names. All of the merchandise is sold directly by the designers through shop-in-shops, and are “guaranteed to be authentic,” according to the web site.

Luxury fashion designers have been among the last to join the stampede to online shopping — a trend that has only increased with the pandemic. Until now, top brands have largely eschewed e-commerce altogether for fear that it cheapens the exclusivity of its merchandise and the overall shopping experience.

Oscar de la Renta is now run by the late designer’s son-in-law, Alex Bolen, who defended the Amazon move in an interview with Vogue.

“We want to be able to talk to her wherever she’s comfortable shopping,” Bolen said of the label’s customer. “This idea that you don’t want to speak to a customer where she’s spending a lot of her time is a mistake.”

Still, the partnership looked jarring to some industry insiders.

“I think Amazon and Oscar de la Renta are opposites. Amazon is so awesome when you know precisely what you want. Oscar de la Renta is a fantasy land to discover a great occasion dress or other garment,” said Richard Kestenbaum, a partner at Triangle Capital. “But the world is changing. The question is whether these two opposites can now help each other, and we’ll just have to wait to find out.