Amazon on Tuesday unveiled its latest original fashion line — Buttoned Down — a menswear line of dress shirts available only to Prime members. Amazon plans to expand the line to include dress pants, sport shirts and sweaters.
The shirts are made from non-iron, 100% Supima Cotton backed by an unconditional, money-back satisfaction guarantee, and they’re priced starting at $39, according to a press release.
Buttoned Down will compete with a host of brands already available on Amazon’s website, including G.H. Bass & Co., Wrangler, Dickies, Ralph Lauren, Izod, Hugo Boss and Penguin.
Buttoned Down is one of the first Amazon private apparel brands to launch exclusively to Prime Members, but it's far from the first original line. Earlier this year, Amazon launched seven private label brands in men's, women's and children's clothing, as well as in shoes and accessories.
Amazon Men’s Fashion Editor Warren Satchell said in a statement that the new effort is “to make high quality apparel more accessible" for customers. “Whether he’s wearing it with a suit and tie, or just tucked into jeans on a casual Friday, Buttoned Down is a no-fuss, reliable option that guarantees effortless style and great value,” Satchell said.
As the largest online seller of apparel, Amazon's $16.3 billion apparel sales in 2015 exceeded those of the next five competitors — Macy’s, Nordstrom, Gap, Kohl’s and Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands — combined, according to an Internet Retailer report. And Amazon is poised to dethrone Macy's as the largest U.S. clothing retailer overall in 2017.
But the launch of Buttoned Down demonstrates the pickle that brands find themselves when considering whether to sell on Amazon: Half of all U.S. households have Prime memberships, and those households tend to be wealthier and younger than average. But the e-commerce giant has a tendency to develop its own lines of merchandise that has proven popular on its site, which stiffens competition.
When Gap CEO Art Peck earlier this year said GAP should consider selling on Amazon, Sucharita Mulpuru, ShopTalk chief retail strategist and former retail analyst at Forrester Research, told Retail Dive in an email that, “selling on Amazon is letting the fox in the hen house." While it may seem as if nearly all apparel brands will eventually need to sell on Amazon to reach a wider audience, Mulpuru said, "There's no good that will come of it. Target and Costco have less of a reputation for cannibalizing suppliers."