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Amazon Is Crushing Walmart When it Comes to Apparel and Footwear

COVID-19 recovery is on the horizon but the pandemic's impact on sustainability, retail, product development and consumer buying patterns means the denim industry must evolve. Join Rivet on April 20th at 11 am ET for the COVID, One Year Later roundtable.

Amazon’s clothing and shoe business is on track to generate $45 billion in revenue this year, as the nation’s newly minted No. 1 seller of apparel and footwear, according to Wells Fargo analysis, is estimated to control as much as 12 percent of all such products sold in the U.S. and up to 35 percent just in the digital domain.

In a research note published Wednesday, senior equity analyst Ike Boruchow estimated that the Seattle tech giant grew apparel and footwear sales, including third-party products, by 15 percent in 2020, a seeming beneficiary of consumers who took to digital in droves when the coronavirus pandemic forced many fashion stores to fold up shop—momentarily—across the U.S.

What’s more, the investment bank says Amazon’s $41 billion in apparel and footwear sales last year outperformed closest competitor Walmart by as much as 25 percent. The finding suggests its Bentonville, Ark.-based rival—which just retained Brandon Maxwell’s creative input for two of its “elevated” private labels—has considerable work to do in closing that gap.

Amazon successfully courted pandemic fashion consumers, growing its share of wallet in this area by 18 percent for the full calendar year, according to the research team’s survey of 1,000 of the platform’s shoppers. However, 30 percent indicated their likelihood of resuming their pre-Covid shopping habits once social restrictions allow clothing stores to operate without disruption, which suggests apparel and footwear will experience “greater ‘normalization’ trends” in the near term, the research team wrote.

And I Get Dressed

News of the e-commerce juggernaut’s surging dominance in the softlines space arrives as the influencer-led platform operating under the Amazon Fashion umbrella dropped a new collection created in partnership with one of the most vocal personalities in plus-size and inclusive fashion.

The Drop from Amazon Fashion worked with plus-size influencer Kellie Brown on a size-inclusive collection of springy, '70s-inspired dresses, cardigans, pants, tops and skirts.

“I have wanted to wear more cardigans for the last few years and never see any cut the way that I like – boxy, cropped and cool,” Brown said.

Kellie Brown, who sells a “Fat Icon” sweatshirt in the merch section on her blog, And I Get Dressed, partnered with The Drop for a ‘70s-inspired capsule of items spanning dresses, cardigans, on-trend wide-leg pants and ribbed miniskirts in a spring-ready palette including smoke-green prints and florals, fog blue and off white. As with all such drops, the collection is sold during a 30-hour window and a global manufacturing base produces only what customers order, significantly curbing inventory pileups.

Priced between $39.90 and $59.90, the collection was inspired by a “mix of fond memories and iconic movies that always swirl around in my head,” said Brown, whose Instagram followers alone top 140,000. “It is fashion from the 1970’s, my mom’s effortless style, and a mash up of backyard [barbecues] in cinema-like scenes.”

Southern California-based Brown told Sourcing Journal she envisioned creating a capsule that “appealed to my wide range of followers,” noting that “Amazon Fashion was able to transform my designs of on-trend pieces and develop a collection that can be worn by people of different shapes and sizes.” The Philadelphia native got to work “creating inspiration boards and searching for prints and colors to create the right styles I love and felt like many of my followers would love too,” selecting cotton, viscose and spandex fabrics for “comfortable, everyday wear.”

Though Kellie Brown x The Drop is available in sizes XXS-3X like all such limited-time collections have been for nearly the past year, Amazon notably styled and photographed items in the collection on a plus-size model in addition to the influencer—both of whom wear size 3X—instead of showing a range of body types. The decision seems to underscore why Brown described Amazon as the “perfect partner” to collaborate with, noting its “breadth and trend relevancy for customers in both straight and plus sizes.” Though The Drop first ventured into size inclusivity with a more conventionally plus-sized influencer, its decision to make Brown the face of a new capsule indicates a commitment to offering shoppers trend-led fashion regardless of size or body shape.

After a seemingly endless year of limiting interactions with others, many consumers are restlessly awaiting a return to jam-packed social calendars, dinners, weddings and other symbols of normality. Brown hopes her collection will encourage people to trade in their “couch couture” quarantine wardrobes for “easy, grab-and-go pieces” that offer something a little bit special.

“Fashion is such a big part of how most of us express ourselves. We of course get dressed for work and events etc., but a lot of getting dressed is to bring joy into our days,” she said, from the “colors we love” to the “ideas we’ve seen and been inspired to re-create.”

“Whether going for long walks or dressing up for Zoom calls,” she added, “I think we’ll see a lot more self-expression through outfit choices.”

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