What Amazon’s Two HQ2 Locations Could Mean for Shoe Brands

It’s official: Amazon has selected not one but two cities as the future homes to its new headquarters. Come 2019, Crystal City, Va., and Long Island City, N.Y., will see the e-commerce behemoth roll into town along with 50,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in tax breaks.

While reactions on the moves are mixed, one thing is for sure: It puts Amazon much closer to many of the brands it carries, and gives it even better access to top talent in retail, marketing, tech and finance.

With a shiny new office across the river from Manhattan, the Seattle-based company will likely be able to strengthen its relationships within the fashion industry, a task it has struggled with at times due to the power it wields over brands on its platform, problems with counterfeits and unauthorized sellers within its third-party marketplace, and the growing share of consumer dollars it has sapped away from other retailers over the past two decades.

Its arrival on the East Coast could herald a new era for Amazon, which recently overtook Nike and Adidas as the top destination for men’s footwear and is poised to become the largest apparel retailer in the country by the end of the year, according to a study by research firm One-Click Retail.

Walmart, Amazon’s archrival in the U.S., has beefed up its fashion portfolio significantly in 2018, acquiring plus-size e-tailer Eloquii last month and rolling out a partnership with Lord & Taylor that lets customers shop premium brands like Timberland and Tommy Hilfiger on Walmart.com.

Amazon may also have an easier time attracting workers to lead the growth of its private-label business, an area that has expanded significantly in the past two years and now includes an estimated 70 brands, more than half of them in apparel and accessories. For New York-based fashion companies, this could be a threat as the deep-pocketed giant begins its hiring spree, particularly as the tight labor market is ramping up competition between employers. (Amazon also has a head start: A recent LinkedIn study named it the top company where American professionals most want to work in 2018.)

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