Study on Amazon Fashion: Core Basics and Contemporary’s Gray Market

The study also found more apparel sales in men's basics than in the women's apparel categories.

L2’s latest report on Amazon Fashion suggests that contemporary brands partner with the e-commerce platform to have better control over distribution and the gray market.

The report, titled “Amazon Fashion: The Land of Basics, Private Label and Gray Market,” noted that contemporary brands such as Tory Burch and Rag & Bone do not sell on Amazon, but are victims of gray market distribution. It found there were more than 2,300 third-party listings for Tory Burch product between January and August 2017, the time period for the data collection. A popular pair of sunglasses from the brand, via a third-party listing, fluctuated in price from $59.99 to $175 over a three-month period, while the price on the brand’s site for a similar pair was $205. Because Tory Burch is not an official distribution partner, Amazon does not assist in either assortment or pricing regulation.

L2 concluded that contemporary brands should play offense and consider becoming an official Amazon distribution partner to better control the way their products are distributed. L2 also noted that some brands, such as Nike, have recently inked an official distribution partnership with Amazon. In the case of Nike, 99 percent of the 100,000 Amazon listings for Nike products are still sold by third parties, but at least the brand can now begin working with Amazon to better regulate how its products are sold on the marketplace.

L2 also took a look at Amazon’s bestsellers in the apparel category ­by gender and age. It found 66 percent of apparel were purchases in men’s, followed by 29 percent in women’s and 5 percent in children’s. In the children’s category, 60 percent were for baby apparel, 33 percent boys and 7 percent girls.

Digging deeper into the data for apparel purchases, the study found that sales of men’s briefs, T-shirts and polos have benefited legacy players such as Hanes and Levi’s, but increasing competition from Amazon’s private label brands is changing the bestseller landscape. In women’s, 26 percent of bestsellers in July were dresses, 20 percent swimwear and 18 percent bras. The women’s apparel category is fragmented, and no single brand controls more than a 7 percent share of bestsellers.

The top-performing women’s brand is Hanes, with 6 percent of the bestsellers in the category. While Hanes, Playtex, Fruit of the Loom and Columbia can all be considered top performers, the study found that the “vast majority” of bestsellers in women’s apparel are sold by “upstart brands” that traditionally sell wholesale versus direct-to-consumer. Products in the women’s top 100 list were under $50 and 89 percent were under $20.

Further, Amazon’s Prime Day beneficiaries were its private label brands, suggesting that in the future there will be fewer opportunities for legacy brands to capitalize on busy Amazon shopping days as consumers become more aware of its own private label merchandise.

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