Roland Mouret, designer of the Galaxy dress and one of the best-known names in British fashion, is swapping the catwalk at London fashion week in favour of Amazon Prime.
Mouret joins the upscale American brand Oscar de la Renta as the second designer on board with Amazon’s newly launched Luxury Stores, which will offer Prime customers a “luxury shopping experience”. Mouret will reveal his new collection via a one-minute video on Amazon in lieu of a catwalk show. The move into high fashion represents a further Amazon inroad into owning cultural space, hot on the heels of investment in original streaming content and live sport.
“When something is described as luxury or not luxury, a lot of the time, that’s just snobbery,” said Mouret of the new partnership. Until now he, like most high-fashion designers, has emphasised the importance of a high-end environment for his creations. His flagship is a Grade I-listed mansion in London’s Mayfair, in which his jewel-coloured dresses are set off by Edwardian dark oak panelling. But now “all of my customers are on Amazon”, Mouret told the Guardian. “That is the reality. We are all Amazon customers now.”
But, Mouret says, “Amazon is not to blame. The fashion industry made its own mistakes. We created too much product, we paid too much attention to fashion week and not enough to the consumer. We created a monster.” Direct-to-consumer partnerships could offer a lifeline to independent brands that could otherwise fail, he added.
Mouret’s Amazon boutique will not be a discount outlet, but a platform for “the brand the way it is”, with the same product and pricing. A fitted dress in draped crepe, with signature origami-fold neckline and full-length gold back zip, will retail for around £750. A “View in 360” feature will allow shoppers to input their own measurements and skin tone in order to see how a dress will look on them.
“Will I miss fashion week? That’s like asking a drug addict if he misses the parties where he took drugs,” said Mouret. “We made bad decisions. It wasn’t sustainable.” He adds that this season’s video, entitled No Show and showcasing five key looks, is “completely carbon-neutral”.
Earlier this week, Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen told Vogue that “I would guess somewhere near 100% of our existing customers are on Amazon and a huge percentage of those are Prime members … This idea that you don’t want to speak to a customer where she’s spending a lot of her time is a mistake.”
Mouret was an early adopter of online retail. “Twenty years ago, Manolo Blahnik and I were the first designers to sign up to Net-a-Porter at a time when people were saying customers would never buy expensive clothes online. That same snobbery is at work here. Today is a different challenge, but in my creative guts I feel it is right.”