NEW YORK, United States — The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is coming to Amazon in more ways than one. Premiering in the Spring of 2016, the third season of Condé Nast Entertainment and Break Thru Films’ documentary series The Fashion Fund — which tracks ten designers as they compete for the prize of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Designer of the Year, comprising $400,000 and mentorship from industry professionals — will air on the Internet retailer’s streaming service.
To coincide with the premiere of the ten-episode season and the delivery of the ten designers’ spring collections, Amazon Fashion will also launch a “dedicated retail experience” allowing viewers to shop the collections of Baja East, Baldwin, Brother Vellies, Cadet, CG, Chromat, David Hart & Co., Gypsy Sport, Jonathan Simkhai and Thaddeus O’Neil.
The new strategy “uniquely combines commerce and content,” CFDA president and chief executive Steven Kolb told BoF. “Broadcasting The Fashion Fund on Amazon, a highly respected platform, is a fresh approach to sharing the inner workings of the [competition].”
But while the second season of The Fashion Fund aired on American cable television network Ovation in 2014, this isn’t the first time the show has been delivered digitally. In 2011, the inaugural season of The Fashion Fund was streamed on Hulu. Yet the new partnership with Amazon comes in the context of major shifts in the way consumers watch television. A study released by Deloitte in April 2015 revealed that video-streaming services are now used by more than 42 percent of American households. What’s more, over half of consumers say that they prefer streaming over live television.
Indeed, some complained that the second season of The Fashion Fund was inaccessible to those without cable television subscriptions. (As of February 2015, Ovation was available in about 54 million American homes.) To watch the series on Amazon, consumers will need an Amazon Prime account, which costs $99 a year. (Amazon does not share how many of its users pay for its Prime services, but analyst estimates range from 40 million to 50 million.) According to internet infrastructure company Sandvine, Amazon Instant Video is the second-largest paid video streaming service in North America, following Netflix.
Amazon’s interest in The Fashion Fund comes as no surprise, given the company’s attempts to push into the fashion market over the past half decade. From sponsoring the Met Ball in 2012 to partnering with the CFDA to launch New York Fashion Week Men’s in the Summer of 2015, the Internet retailer has made it clear that building credibility in fashion — one of the world’s largest markets — is of vital strategic interest to the company. “We are delighted to introduce this year’s promising group of designers to our customers and showcase the very best in American fashion,” Cathy Beaudoin, president of Amazon Fashion, told BoF. “Year after year, we are amazed by the level of talent in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists and so thrilled to see each of them find continued success beyond the competition.”
Amazon is also sponsoring the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s annual fashion show in Los Angeles this October, which will be documented in one of the 30-minute episodes. (Last year, Ovation ran six hour-long episodes.) This season, the competition’s selection committee is again composed of prominent American fashion industry insiders including Kolb, Reed Krakoff, Diane von Furstenberg, Jenna Lyons, Rag & Bone’s Marcus Wainwright & David Neville, Jeffrey Kalinsky, Ken Downing, Andrew Rosen, Mark Holgate and Anna Wintour.