Amazon fashions new online clothing label

The online retail giant is believed to want to line up Frances Russell to take a senior role in its fashion division

Amazon has taken a step forward in taking on high street clothing retailers, entering talks to hire a former Marks & Spencer boss and starting a recruitment drive to launch its own online fashion label.

The online retail giant is believed to want to line up Frances Russell, who stepped down from her role as head of womenswear at M&S last year, to take a senior role in its fashion division. 

It is not certain whether Ms Russell would be based in the UK or overseas.

The potential hire adds weight to speculation that Amazon is preparing to launch its own clothing line.

The internet marketplace specialist has this month advertised a raft of US jobs for those with fashion-industry experience, including for a sourcing manager “to launch new, high-quality products”.

It has had a clothing division for a number of years, and first launched it in the UK in 2007. Last year it hired the model Suki Waterhouse to front its advertising. 

Brands stocked include Lacoste, Ben Sherman and Mango, and 30 million fashion pieces were sold across Europe in the second quarter of 2015.

Neil Saunders, the managing director of retail analyst Conlumino, warned: “The main concern for other apparel retailers isn’t necessarily that Amazon will come to dominate the fashion scene with its own label, it’s that by doing this, the company will strengthen its fashion credentials, which will make it more of a destination for consumers.

“One of the dangers is that Amazon has a massive reach and can easily advertise and expose its new ranges to millions of consumers, literally at the push of a button.”

However, with the bulk of the recently advertised jobs being US-based, it could take time before it launches in the UK, the retail analyst Nick Bubb suggested. 

Mr Bubb said the firm would have to “work hard on price or fashionability” to make its own label successful. It is the latest attempt by Amazon to expand its offerings. Most recently it launched its Pantry food service here last year. Amazon declined to comment.

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