Have you ever wondered where fashion product images on the Amazon website come from? No matter whether you’re shopping on Amazon.co.uk or any of the other local language European websites – if you are browsing products sold by Amazon in the Fashion category, then you can be sure that those images were created by our Fashion team in London.
Welcome to Amazon’s biggest European fashion studio
Based in Hoxton, Amazon Fashion’s European photography studio is a place with personality. Opened in 2015 and recently expanded with a new operational space to photograph new product categories, the photo studio is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, covering 48,880 square feet with 21 individual photography bays, an editorial area and a creative fashion library. Its current vibe is contemporary industrial-chic, but its exposed brick walls and wide arches betray its Victorian origins. Here, thousands of fashion products from all over Europe are received, prepared and photographed every week, with over half a million images produced every year. “It’s quite a unique workplace,” smiles Dimitris Vassiliadis, Imaging Logistics Manager at the studio.
Dimitris’s team is responsible for sourcing new clothing articles as soon as they arrive at the warehouses all over Europe, and having them delivered in the fastest and most efficient way to the Hoxton studio. He likes to define himself as the ‘numbers’ guy’: “We collect items from over 60 different fulfilment centres across the continent: it’s a complex and very sophisticated logistics operation,” he explains.
A source of information – and inspiration
Fashion photography has always been instrumental in influencing customers’ styles and spreading new trends. With the advent of e-commerce, its importance as an essential vehicle for information has increased: customers rely on images to gather information on the material, colour and details of a fashion item, to assess how it will look on them, or simply for inspiration. For the photography teams, this is a big responsibility, but also a source of great pride: “I really like how we can convey so much information to customers through our work, and hopefully contribute to their experience in a positive way,” says Jackie Allen, Equipment Manager at the studio. “I am an online consumer myself, so I understand what customers are looking for. I let that awareness guide my choices at work.”
When new clothes reach the studio, a specific team takes care of unpacking them with the greatest care and preparing them for shooting. Clothes are then steamed and organised on racks, ready for the shooting bay. Ieva Rakojedaite is responsible for supervising this preliminary step in the items’ journey, as well as the final one – the recollection after the photo shoot, when clothes are neatly folded, labelled and packaged to be shipped back to the warehouse. “We’re the alpha and the omega in the process,” she jokes. “I love everything about fashion, being a part of the industry and contributing to its growth.”
Every item is matched to a certain style, or ‘persona’, which caters to the taste of a specific type of customer: clothes can be classified as timeless, formal, young, streetwear… there are several categories; navigating this maze is the task of stylists, like Breda ‘Bea’ Acquah. Stylists work alongside photographers, models and make-up artists in the photo bays, ensuring that every item is properly accessorized, styled and enhanced to look inspiring: a creative challenge. “Part of our job consists of keeping up to speed with fashion trends, both from the catwalks and from the street,” Bea says. Stylists may also work closely with designers to define the looks and moods of Amazon Fashion’s private brands like find., Meraki, Truth & Fable, lingerie brand Iris & Lilly or athleisure brand, Aurique. As a kid, Bea loved dressing up her dolls: “In a way, I have never stopped playing with clothes,” she smiles.
The studio also hosts a gallery area dedicated to the personal artwork of employees. “We are a quirky bunch with many creative interests. Most of us have passion projects on the side,” says Jackie. She, for instance, is currently working on a photo book dedicated to aggressive quad skating, her passion. “Amazon encourages us to pursue our personal interests. Once a quarter we can take a day off and borrow the studio’s equipment to work on a creative shoot for our portfolio. This contributes to keeping our creative drive flowing. We can then bring that energy back into our day-do-day work.”
At the studio, this creative push coexists with the importance of processes, flows and figures. “As one of the ‘numbers’ guys’, I love how we managed to find a balance between the two souls of the studio, creativity and customer focus,” says Dimitris. Like all marriages, this also has faced its ups and downs: “When I first joined, I found it hard to tell the difference between an elevated image and a standard catalogue one. They all looked like pictures of t-shirts to me,” he jokes. “Now I recognise how elevated photography can positively influence our customers’ experience. I have become more creative myself: thinking out of the box really helps when you are working on process improvement, like me. This is a place that triggers your imagination.”
Click and drag within the 360 photo below to explore the inside of a photo bay