Last weekend, US e-tail giant Amazon significantly beefed up its strategy to become a major player in the fashion industry with the launch of the Amazon Fashion photographic studios in Hoxton (the heart of East London's creative neighbourhood). The occasion was marked with two major events: an industry-focused reception and a one-day event opened to consumers in collaboration with British fashion and style magazine Dazed & Confused.
With Amazon acting as host/sponsor, the concept allowed Dazed to utilise its huge new 46,000 sq ft multi-million-pound space. The building includes 22 photography bays, video editing facilities, an office space and extensive fashion library, all devised to produce upwards of half-a-million fashion product images a year for the site.
The ticketed consumer event – dubbed the Dazed Fashion Forum – was conceived as a platform to empower young, local creatives by giving them access to key influencers within the fashion industry. It comprised a series of talks and workshops with innovators including Nicola Formichetti, artistic director of Italian fashion brand Diesel, cult British fashion designer Gareth Pugh, UK-based fashion blogger Susanna Lau (aka Susie Bubble), British fashion journalist Alex Fury and Zowie Broach, new head of fashion at London's Royal College of Art.
Most popular were the interactive workshops. British fashion designer Claire Barrow's session involved drawing portraits of visitors that were later transferred onto T-shirts. UK set designer Gary Card created a giant sculpture on-site, while designer Ryan Lo ran a knitting workshop and social media specialists The Digital Fairy offered insights into how Instagrammers can boost their followings.
Dazed & Confused's co-founder and renowned photographer Rankin shot photos during the up-close-and-personal event – trading on a growing consumer appetite for experiences that teach while they entertain and provide critical, connective glimpses behind the scenes. See Exploiting Insider Access and The Rise of Edutainment for more on this topic.
Asserting Amazon's push to become a major fashion retail superpower, the event follows the brand's sponsorship of the first New York Menswear Fashion Week (see our coverage of the event here, and analysis of its importance here), and its major-money announcement that British model Suki Waterhouse will be the face of its first campaign.
The concept relied on a strategic degree of light-touch association (the two brands did not use a joint hashtag for the event, for instance), allowing the retailer to trade on the magazine's credibility. However, it highlights the continuing, mutually beneficial relationship between content producers and commerce as publishers seek new ways to monetise their businesses.
For more on this, see Shoppable Content: Publishing and Shoppable Content: Entertainment, both in our Anywhere Retailing Industry Trend, E-Commerce by Conde Nast, Superdry's Shoppable Magazine, Estée Lauder: Editorialised E-Tail and Beyond Commerce: Rites, Rituals & Culture Clubs.