strat investigates

Strat Investigates: What Are the Amazon Fashion Secrets?

A few favorite finds from Keely Murphy, the woman behind Amazon Fashion Secrets.

Last week, a colleague slipped a little gift into my Slack DMs. And by gift I mean a link to Amazon Fashion Secrets, the world’s best Instagram devoted to finding, cataloguing, and organizing all of the weird and amazing millennial internet fashion items you can buy on America’s largest marketplace. The feed offers a little of everything, from a handbag that looks like a Croc (a personal favorite) to orthopedic sneakers that could have inspired the Yeezys to some pretty wearable checkered socks. I knew immediately that I needed to learn more about the curator, so I reached out. Her name is Keely Murphy and she’s a 24-year-old prop stylist based in Los Angeles, where she works with clients like Nasty Gal and Jeffrey Campbell. She started the Instagram account for fun in December, and it’s already racked up thousands of followers. Below, a conversation with Murphy about the massiveness of Amazon and how to properly shop it, interspersed with some of her favorite finds.

How did the Instagram account come about?
I used to shop eBay and Etsy a lot, and I still do, but professionally it made a lot more sense for me to be on Amazon. I started buying different cheap filler accessories for shoots, and I just really enjoyed the whole process of thinking of funny terminology, looking for products, and then picking out what looks the cleanest and most contemporary on a platform where there’s just tons and tons of stuff that’s hard to sift through. I find that if you just look at something long enough or tilt your head a little, anything can be contemporary-looking. So I was doing that, and I had a bunch of clothing from Amazon that I wore myself and people would always ask me, “Where’d you get that?” And I would be like, “It’s on Amazon. I can send you a link!” I would joke with my friends that I wanted to be a curator or buyer at Amazon, and then one day my friend was just like, “Why don’t you just make an account for it?”

How do you decide on what to include?
A lot of it is based on how the image looks. Just me thinking the product image was funny, or if the product was relevant to whatever fashion trend is happening at the moment. From there, people started really responding to it. I was getting a lot of messages asking how things fit, and I realized people actually want to shop, so I made an Ideas List on Amazon, which is like a public wish list of all the products. It’s my passion project.

Something about seeing the two opposites of this massive corporate online bazaar and these really specific, internet-y, transgressive looks colliding is really funny. Why’d you choose Amazon exclusively?
A lot of people have an existing relationship with Amazon. When you go on there, you don’t think you’re going to find something that’s actually going to look really fashionable on, so I always think it’s kind of funny as a platform where most people are ordering toilet paper. But also there’s a lot of infrastructure in place, and there’s such an accountability when you use Amazon. The return policy is really good, there’s tracking, and the prices are relatively low, so there’s not much risk involved. If there’s a trend that you’ve seen on the internet, you can be like, Oh, I could get some earrings that make me feel like I can be that person, and they’re under $15, and you’ll get them in two days.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
I feel like my specific point of view is reflected through the color palette of the page, but overall that’s mixed with everything I see on the internet. I just consume all of it and then dilute it into the searches. During the most recent Fashion Week, I looked at all of the shows and thought, Oh that’s really funny that Fendi did umbrella hats. There are probably hundreds of those on Amazon. So I went online and there was a camo one that looked really streetwear, so I posted that. I post in groups of three, so I’ll try to balance it. Here’s something that’s really ironic — nobody really wants a lighter with a switchblade on it — but then maybe they want the T-shirt next to it, or realize that this is actually a really practical swim skirt, or just a good, clean belt that I would buy for myself or recommend to a friend.

A recent screenshot of the products Amazon recommends to Murphy based on her search history.

The sneakers that you find are great because fashionable sneakers are actually going back to these orthopedic super-basic looks. It’s like, Obviously these would be available on Amazon.
Totally. Those are readily available. There’s a bunch of them. The Prada Cloud Bust is totally an orthopedic shoe; that’s exactly what it’s based on. The Triple S Balenciagas just look like old Filas, and there are so many of those on Amazon. The Yeezy 700 Desert Rat is like actually an orthopedic shoe that I posted. Even the colorways. I like the idea of seeing the trend and showing you understand it by being like, Haha, okay, but you can find these elsewhere and for cheaper. Some people can’t really laugh at that, but I think I, and the people who like the account, can see the joke there.

What do you search to find new and interesting things?
I’ll think of a silhouette that’s popular, like a swimsuit, and then I’ll think of a funny pattern that it might come in. So I’ll search “real tree swimsuit,” and then I’ll scroll through that and go from there. It’s knowing what words represent different things — like how to describe styles of coats or hats and different shapes. I’ll pair those with material names like vinyl bra, vinyl coat, vinyl purse. Then maybe I’ll change it to pleather or chain or rhinestone, depending on what I find. It’s experimenting with different adjectives.

Do you have any current favorites?
There’s a lot of sexy stuff on Amazon that’s always fun. I’ll search lace and sheer. All you need to do is add the word sexy to things. I searched “sexy key chain” expecting to find something that just said sexy in rhinestone, but it came up with a key chain that said “stay sexy and don’t get murdered.” I thought that was hilarious, so I put it up and people really liked it because apparently it’s the tagline of a podcast.

Buying this stuff is kind of low stakes because everything is usually around $25, but how would you advise someone if they find something that they think is cool and fashionable, but don’t know if it’s actually going to be decent enough to wear. Is there any way to tell?
There’s always risk involved, especially in certain realms of, like, swimwear because a lot of it is made inexpensively, so there could be construction issues. Definitely check all of the reviews. People really put a lot of effort in. They post pictures. They explain what size they got along with their height and weight measurements. It’s pretty cool, and I really commend everyone who does that. One of my followers actually sent me this funny message that he found a backpack through me and thought it was perfect, but after going through a bunch of reviews, he figured out that it was actually a key chain.

Has anyone from Amazon gotten in touch with you?
No, not yet. That’s really what I’m hoping for. My dream would be for them to invest in it. Or if they just want to buy it out, that would work, too. I’m trying to pivot right now toward design, so I’m excited about the idea of making merch and maybe offering the idea of a private label through Amazon that represents that sort of Instagram, streetwear millennial aesthetic.

Do you make money off of affiliate links?
No, because they discontinued that program for individual users. Now, they have influencer-affiliate programs that I tried to apply for, but they did not appreciate the use of Amazon in the title of my account. I figured that I would continue to grow it until a more official conversation can be had.

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Strat Investigates: What Are the Amazon Fashion Secrets?