Amazon fashion
Fashion model at Amazon India Fashion Week in New Delhi. What role will Amazon play in the global fashion industry? Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty

Amazon’s share price set a record Tuesday when it briefly rose to $1,000, the New York Times reported. The tech giant has become one of the top power players in e-commerce, so much so the Atlantic reported Amazon is “eating retail.” A study by Slice Intelligence suggests Amazon was responsible for 53 percent of all online sales growth across the United States. “Our goal is to make Amazon the best place to buy fashion online," a spokesperson for Amazon told Business Of Fashion. Yet Amazon faces several obstacles as it sidles into the fashion industry.

There’s a big difference between a company selling fashion and a company with the power to influence what clothes people want to buy. So far, Amazon is struggling to make that shift. “Fashion is an emotional purchase that makes shoppers feel a certain way, and Amazon takes away that feeling,” Laura Sossong, a senior consultant with Boston Retail Partners, told Racked.

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Amazon’s first live TV show aimed at fashion lovers, Style Code Live, was canceled abruptly last Friday, the New York Post reported. Amazon’s fashion department is now under new leadership. Christine Beauchamp, the former CEO of Victoria's Secret Beauty, was named president of Amazon Fashion in May. Former president Cathy Beaudoin quietly left after eight years at the helm.

Beauchamp will need to overhaul Amazon’s approach if the company wants more clout in the fashion world. So far, Amazon’s efforts to combine tech with style haven’t been well-received.

Customers are clearly willing to buy clothes from Amazon. The Verge reported Amazon sold more clothes to Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 than any other online retailer in 2016. But Amazon doesn’t want to just sell clothes. It wants to become a tastemaker with its own exclusive lines.

Amazon debuted the Echo Look app, Outfit Compare, in March. The Echo’s voice-operated camera sends photos of the user’s outfits to the app for algorithm-powered fashion advice. Although human stylists direct the app’s style tips, critics pointed out Amazon has yet to establish enough of a cultural reputation for users to value advice from an Amazon employee. To make matters worse, the app's artificial intelligence features are still clunky at best. Quora user Jonathan Brill called Echo Look a “ridiculous joke of a product.”

Regardless, Amazon obtained a patent for on-demand apparel manufacturing in April, Recode reported. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Amazon is also exploring ways to sell custom-fit clothing, as couture for the masses. Yet the general consensus still seems to be Amazon is out of its league when it comes to the high-end world of fashion design. Meanwhile, the tech company continues to sponsor industry events, like India Fashion Week, as it experiments with in-house products.

“Amazon might be a big fat pipeline into consumer’s homes, but that’s not the same as creating inspiration,” Richard Kestenbaum, a partner at Triangle Capital LLC, told Racked. “Selling Fruit of the Loom is not the same as selling Oscar de la Renta.”

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