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New Balance Pounces on Amazon’s Rising Fashion Clout

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New Balance took to Amazon’s fashion influencer platform this week to shine the spotlight not just on its fall workout fashion but on powerhouse athletes, too.

Since Thursday afternoon, The Drop storefront on Amazon Fashion has promoted the latest women’s activewear from the Boston athletic brand, which trotted out two rising track stars to showcase the sporting-ready looks.

Though The Drop traditionally promotes clothing, shoes and accessories co-designed with popular social personalities, this isn’t the first time a brand has signed on to get in front of Amazon’s legions of shoppers. Reebok last summer was the first non-influencer to curate an assortment for the platform’s fashion-hungry fans.

The New Balance launch follows Reebok’s brand-building model, presenting a tailored selection of styles that aren’t exclusive to Amazon. “We’re excited to take part in Amazon’s The Drop, as it aligns perfectly with two of New Balance’s key pillars—women and apparel—while bringing new consumers to build awareness around our brand and our athletes,” a spokesperson said.

New Balance took to Amazon’s fashion influencer platform this week to shine the spotlight not just on its fall workout fashion but on powerhouse athletes, too.

Emma Coburn New Balance

Sports fans—or at least avid Olympics viewers—might recognize the women striking a pose in New Balance’s new gear on The Drop. Gabby Thomas, a Harvard alum and two-time sprinting medalist at last year’s Tokyo Games, models streetwear and active apparel alongside fellow track standout Emma Coburn, a middle-distance runner who medaled at Rio 2016. These brand ambassadors and role models “continue to put us in position to accelerate our growth and open up new opportunities,” the New Balance spokesperson added.

Products range from in-your-face logoed looks like a coordinating hot-pink-printed bra and leggings, to laid-back studio-to-street styles including bike shorts, hoodies, sneakers and more. And true to form, The Drop mixes its own branded items into New Balance’s curation, inspiring consumers to experiment and discover jeans, denim jackets and other trendy styles.

Consumers can shop the curation through Monday—another departure from The Drop’s usual 30-hour purchasing windows.

Making moves, ‘Making the Cut’

Both Amazon Fashion and New Balance have made some notable moves over the past year. The latter has embarked on a transformation journey, overhauling its digital flagship, modernizing its tech stack with Aptos, going all-in on digital design, and tapping The Renewal Workshop to sell spruced-up, pre-worn apparel.

Amazon, meanwhile, came back to the small screen this summer with season two of “Making the Cut,” the fashion-reality streaming series hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn searching for the next global brand. A promising talent early in the eight-episode season, $1-million-prize hopeful Joshua Scacheri got to design a capsule sold through The Drop as a perk for taking top honors on the second episode, though he never made it to the finale.

Andrea Pitter won season two of "Making the Cut"

Andrea Pitter of Pantora Bridal won season two of “Making the Cut”

The show really made a splash when Levi’s stepped in to lead a design challenge on episode five—the first time “Making the Cut” has handed the reins over to a brand. Gary Graham won over judges Jeremy Scott and Winnie Harlow with his genderless, “upside-downsible” interpretation of Levi’s iconic Trucker jacket, edging out tough competition from Andrea Pitter’s nostalgic bubble-sleeve ensemble.

And though Graham’s textile-centric aesthetic proved a force to be reckoned with from the start, Brooklyn-based Pitter ultimately claimed the season-two crown. The Jamaican-heritage design force behind Pantora Bridal stayed true to her inclusive sensibilities throughout, routinely earning praise for designing equally stylish for straight- and plus-size models—and with accessible, commercial appeal.

Pitter was open about the impact of winning and gaining access to an Amazon Fashion mentorship, on top of the cool $1 million windfall and selling her designs through the highly trafficked platform. “Before the show I didn’t realize how far along I could have been with extra resources,” she told Sourcing Journal last month. “Resources are not necessarily as available to women like me as I would like them to be, but I didn’t realize how behind the curve I actually was. So being able to win and put money into certain projects, and actually take the time that I needed to be the boss that I wanted to be definitely changed my business—it changed my outlook on so many things.”

Now, the FIT alum says she is “able to make creative decisions that I haven’t had the time for because I played entirely too many roles within my company” and is taking the opportunity to “be the visionary that I always wanted to be.”

Pitter never wavered from her inclusive design point of view on “Making the Cut.”

Pitter is planting her flag on Los Angeles’s Row DTLA as part of her “Making the Cut” victory, opening a store teased in the finale in addition to a bridal shop planned for fall or winter.

Having a team of experts ready to parse through the details makes all the difference, according to Pitter. “Amazon provided me with the team to guide me through so much of what it is that I need to do as someone who’s creating products and inventory,” she said. Amazon, she added, “knows how read data like nobody’s business.”

“They were really good about making sure that I created a sellable product and the timeliness of all my products,” Pitter said.

In the wake of last year’s explosive social unrest rising from George Floyd’s police-custody killing, the designer is hopeful that fashion’s efforts to diversify continue to flourish even if the Black Lives Matter movement disappears from the headlines. “I think that America had a big wake-up call last year, and opportunity was provided in places that normally isn’t,” Pitter said. “I think that people are more aware, more conscious. I think that we’re being offered more seats at the table and…I hope that we’re offered more seats, I hope that our voices are heard.”

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