Many moons ago when I worked in advertising (back when it was fun), someone very smart once said, “all creative strategies come down to better sex, or more mother’s milk.” Meaning, powerful brand messages promise one of two things to the lizard part of our brain: making you feel desirable, or making you feel taken care of. These are two very different promises. Brands can’t do both.
Amazon has been trying for years now to break into the designer fashion scene, with no success. It sells apparel very well – just not luxury fashion. This confounds many people in business, because it is arguably the most successful company in the entire world. It has figured everything else out; why can’t it nail luxury fashion? It’s trying yet again, with its new “Common Threads” partnership with Vogue. It’s the very definition of “good idea, poor execution”.
Shopping on Amazon provides that well-stocked feeling. Its delivery people and warehouse workers are heroic. It comes to the rescue when we can’t find things anywhere else, or when we’re in a jam and really have to have it within a day. Especially during Covid-19, it has provided a comforting lifeline, bringing essentials to our doorstep when it’s dangerous to venture out.
Amazon is a “more mother’s milk” brand.
Truly beautiful luxury fashion, on the other hand, represents the “better sex” promise. To those who love it, it delivers a glint, a thrill, a feeling of being alive.
A month ago for my birthday, my husband went to great lengths during quarantine to connect with my favorite sales associate at Mitchell’s (an amazing local multi brand boutique) to secure a pair of Fendi heels that my S.A. knew I had coveted but had been unwilling to buy because they are a splurge, very high-heeled, and all-white. God save me, they made my heart sing when I opened the box. The definition of luxury. Beautiful craftsmanship and entirely not needed. I’ve been wearing them strategically for my own entertainment during otherwise tedious Zoom calls.
It’s sad to see Vogue settling for such a poor execution of anything having to do with its own brand. It would have been unthinkable ten years ago, but that was when Vogue was a thick tome of discovery and excitement. It’s now a shadow of its former self (no wonder Anna Wintour keeps her sunglasses on in the video that lives on the site and promotes the partnership.) The site is super generic, uninspired, and decidedly not beautiful. The quality of the photographs is not deserving of the quality of the fashion.
The designers featured are all independent, from Jonathan Cohen to Brock Collection. They have been singled out because they have been “particularly hard hit” during the crisis, which is undoubtedly true, but it still doesn’t make the prompt to donate to the cause particularly motivating when there are so many competing forces compelling charitable giving.
Amazon, stick to your knitting. You are good at reliably finding and delivering what we need to feel safe, stocked, prepared and secure. How about managing the whole Covid test kit process? (No one else seems to be able to.) It’s kind of weird that you can’t deliver decent luxury product photography, but right now the world needs you to focus on more important things anyway.