The Biggest Projected Clothing Retailer Of 2017 Might Surprise You

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
When it comes to naming the biggest national fashion retailer, a massive department-store chain would be the most logical guess. Well, that's traditionally been the case, but probably not for much longer. Business Insider is reporting that in 2017, Amazon is poised to become the U.S.'s biggest clothing seller, according to a new forecast from investment-banking firm Cowen & Co. If the e-comm behemoth does indeed become the largest apparel purveyor, it'll beat Macy's for the top spot. Macy's is slated to rake in $22 billion in clothing and accessories sales in 2017, per the report. By contrast, Amazon is expected to grow almost 30% next year, hitting $28 billion for the same categories. Amazon's fashion forays have ratcheted up in the past few years, from expanding its roster of brands (and launching private-label ones) to sponsoring the Met Ball and various Fashion Weeks to airing a season of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund reality series The Fashion Fund. Earlier this year, the site debuted a 21st-century take on QVC with its own shopable fashion TV show. The e-comm's draws as a clothing retailer mostly have to do with Amazon Prime, per Cowen & Co., plus the convenience factor of online shopping (because, obviously), customer service, and ample product reviews. The caveats: No physical outposts means no dressing rooms to test-drive potential threads or make speedy returns sans post-office visits. And apparently the projected 2017 stats are just the tip of the iceberg for Amazon's grand fashion plans. In five years, Amazon is projected to amass $62 billion in annual clothing sales, with T.J. Maxx anticipated to be in the number-two spot in 2021 with a projected $26 billion in sales, followed by Macy's (expected to make $23 billion annually). What exactly does this tell us about the future of retail? Stay tuned.