Ask me what I’m wearing on any given day, and the answer will undoubtedly include something from H&M. I’m in love with the brand, their design concept, and of course their incredible clothes.
H&M expresses energy, fun, amusement and freedom, and when you step through their doors, beneath the gleaming red H&M sign, you inwardly sigh knowing you can browse floors of gorgeous fashion, safe in the knowledge the items won’t be overpriced.
So, you can only imagine my excitement when I was asked to join a group of journalists on a visit to the H&M head office in Stockholm, Sweden, ahead of the brand’s arrival in South Africa.
Our journey began with a trip to the H&M head office in Stockholm. The fashionable space is filled with H&M’s latest collections, fabrics, and inspirational material, and the atmosphere is vibrant and energetic. I have to admit, the first thing I noticed was how stylish everybody looked. The staff at H&M embody the brand, and they’re incredibly fashion forward.
After a quick lunch, we were treated to a tour of the building, experiencing firsthand what it means to produce fast fashion. The menswear department was the most intriguing – exploring the design process from conception, to fabrics and mood boards, to the final product. As the brand works a few seasons in advance, we were able to get a sneak peak of what’s to come. We spent the next two days meeting the wonderful people who work at H&M – the buyers, designers and stylists, as well as the creative advisor for H&M, Ann-Sofie Johansson, and CEO Karl-Johan Persson.
When it was time to leave, I was sad, but I left feeling invigorated and inspired by such an exceptional brand. I must mention that we did get to shop in-between the presentations, with a cool 25% off at all H&M stores during our stay. I certainly invested in a new wardrobe!
The H&M Way
It’s clear that the heart of the H&M Empire lies in their mantra – fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way – something they’ve kept going over the brands many years on the fashion scene. Family is also a very important concept in the H&M world. Founder Erling Persson started it as a family business in 1947, and it has been a family-run entity ever since, with Erling’s grandson, Karl-Johan Persson, the current CEO.
It would seem as though all the staff are family though, as most people I chatted to there have been with the company for over 10 years, with the most impressive being a store manager who’s stuck with the brand for the past 45 years.
The H&M flagship store is scheduled to open its doors on 17 October 2015 at the V&A Waterfront, and in Sandton City later this year. H&M has over 3 600 stores in more than 59 markets worldwide, and South African fashionistas will finally have the chance to shop up a storm at the 4 700m² double-storey shops. The Cape Town store will open with H&M’s gorgeous studio collection for women, which combines a modern, eclectic style with a classic twist, as well as the fab spring collection featuring effortlessly chic pieces like the bucket bags, wide-leg jeans, and floppy hats. And men can look forward to masculine, sophisticated and wearable pieces in a variety of looks.
We’ve also seen some impressive designer collaboration’s at H&M in the past, including Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, and Roberto Cavalli; this year’s guest collaboration is with Parisian fashion house Balmain, which we’ll be able to shop in-store later this year!