Calvin Klein may currently be directed by a designer who has won the respect of editors and fans alike for being unconventional and conceptual and for favouring inspirations and references coming from the arty and counter-cultural world - Raf Simons - yet this didn't stop the brand from collaborating with one of the e-commerce behemoths - Amazon.
Last week CK and the Amazon fashion team came together for the Calvin Klein x Amazon Fashion NYC Market. This three-day event that took place in New York's Flatiron District (from 5th to 7th October) combined a digital and physical experience.
Visitors were invited to reinvent and shoot the "Together in Denim" billboard, play fun games to win prizes (including Amazon devices, Calvin Klein Underwear, Calvin Klein Jeans products and accessories and other assorted and exclusive merchandise) in a sort of fair like atmosphere, while getting as refreshments limited-edition water boxes featuring artwork from the latest Calvin Klein Jeans campaign.
Further treats included the Amazon Alexa Jukebox Lounge that allowed visitors to use a jukebox upgraded with Amazon Alexa to control the music and lighting with their voice and interact with the music on digital screens, and a popcorn booth, inspired by Calvin Klein 205W39NYC A/W 18 runway show in which visitors could pose for photos among floating popcorn.
Ah yes, there were also shops where people could try on styles from Calvin Klein Jeans and shop the products via the Amazon app. All the digitally enhanced experiences pointed at the site Amazon.com/mycalvins, where CK Jeans and Underwear for women and men are sold.
The event was also linked with the release of a limited-edition Calvin Klein Jeans "A$AP Rocky Trucker Jacket" exclusively to Amazon Fashion. Created for the artist the jacket is available (for $129) on Amazon Fashion at amazon.com/mycalvins.
CK and Amazon Fashion also collaborated with Prime Student Ambassadors at college campuses across the country, introducing #MyCampus, a way for students to interact with the brand on their campuses (Calvin Klein-branded Amazon lockers were also opened at select colleges and universities across the USA in August).
This is the second time CK and Amazon work together: in 2017 they launched pop up shops in New York and Los Angeles, while the #MyCalvins campaign in the brick-and-mortar store was supported by Amazon's technology and included webcams that allowed consumers in different shops to communicate and the possibility to purchase items online via the Amazon app whilst in the store (but no prices were displayed as they changed based on a proprietary algorithm, a desperately annoying feature...).
The idea behind these events is combining product and technology, a digital and a physical experience, to create a form of emotional engagement between consumers and brand. The event in NY was also a platform to celebrate the release of the first Jeans collection designed under the creative direction of Raf Simons.
In a way these events seem less alienating than maybe other shopping opportunities like the ones offered by Instagram and show that digital and physical experiences should maybe complement each other (some brands may indeed find more successful the O2O - online to off-line - model than an entirely digital based campaign). But this is certainly not something counter-cultural or surprising.
Amazon has sold Calvin Klein Jeans for 10 years, and Calvin Klein Underwear for eight years and some products from these lines were exclusively sold through the online retailer last year before arriving in department stores.
CK definitely spotted the advantages that could be offered by Amazon before others: Amazon is enjoying a great success at the moment, but there is a particular section of its business that is booming.
Industry sources registered indeed a migration of advertisers from Google search to Amazon. Clients seem to prefer redirecting money onto Amazon as they know they will get more support when it comes to sales, thanks to additional features regarding content and reviews. Consumers looking for a product online most time end up buying it on Amazon, so it seems natural for businesses using their advertising budgets in a more coherent way, and concentrating them on Amazon.
Google is not registering much growth but it remains strong as, after all, not all categories of brands are sold on Amazon (while businesses working in the field of consumer packaged goods are migrating, the automotive and travel sectors as well as the entertainment sector - think ticked events - are staying with Google). Besides Amazon's business is not as developed in other countries as it is in the United States. So for the time being the biggest losses aren't registered with Google, but with the print and TV markets and with more traditional programmatic display ads.
Yet not all is completely rosy on Amazon's side: Bloomberg reported last week that eBay requested to Amazon.com Inc. to provide the names of Amazon representatives involved in a scheme to infiltrate eBay sellers and convince them to move to Amazon. The practice is against California's Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act and also infringes eBay's user agreement and policies. Ebay could seek payment in court if the case is not resolved.
So while Amazon and in particular its Fashion section and its accessory label The Fix may be on constant expansion (not to mention the company's researches to develop a fashion designer algorithm...), ethically speaking there's still some work to when it comes to ethics and social Responsibility (leaving aside this latest issue with eBay, there are also the conditions of the Amazon warehouse workers all over the world to consider...). At the beginning of September Italian king of cashmere and supporter of sustainable growth and ethical behaviour in business Brunello Cucinelli stated he would like to meet Amazon founder, chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos to discuss his concept of humanistic capitalism and a more human way to use the Internet. Hopefully he will do so soon.