The H&M Clothing line and stores are quickly making a debut in hundreds of markets in the United States, and developing a strong group of brand followers. H&M Hennes & Mauritz originated in Switzerland
as a bargain-focused and fashion-forward clothing line. It has developed and changed considerably over the past 50 years, and slowly but surely making its way onto American soil with the launch of a worldwide campaign signed with Madonna.
The fashion conscious consumer can enjoy the lines exclusive collections with a aheavy focus on market trends and budget-friendly prices. Comparable in scope to the Gap, Old Navy, and Target, H&M prides itself on its European roots and fashion-forward pieces. The H&M company website reports 1900 stores in 22 different countries, and over 50,000 employes. One of the major shareholders is the Church of Sweden, and the discount line has been spearheaded by designers such as Stella McCartney, and Karl Lagerfeld.
Focused on competition, the first American store opened in 2000 in New York; from there, it has grown to areas as far as Chicago, the west coast, and Canada. Recent openings in the Midwest have created new avenues and opportunities for growth. Offering Men’s, Women’s, Children’s, Teen clothing, and osmetics, the diverse products and unique styles are attractive and affordable.
The target market for H&M stores is for the young-minded, fashion conscious groups. Hip styles and designs create an evolving and growing collection each season, offering styles from classic cuts to signature ‘one-time’ trend pieces. With an emphasis on budget-minded shoppers, H&M has captured the 18-24 market, as well as 30-something fans looking for new additions to their wardrobes. New shipments arrive daily, and frequent sales draw in crowds. Merchandise moves fast, as H&M focuses on current fashion trends and continual renewal of designs and offerings. The product displays rotate weekly, and sales and discounts abound throughout the store.
H&M’s recent launch of the @Denim clothing line adds to the scope of jeans and other denim pieces designed for optimal fit. In competition with other leading brand such as Levi’s, Guess, Express, and the Limited brands, H&M’s plan will create a fresh look trend-based offering of signature styles.
Cosmetics and teen lines are a newer brand extension, and offer a variety of trendy products and seasonal merchandise. The signature H&M product cartons are an eye-catching packaging piece, and feature H&M’s customized logo and line of cosmetics, fragrances, and stylish accessories. Karl Lagerfeld’s offering of the signature perfume/fragrance quickly became a popular item after its launch, coinciding with the popularity of fragrance lines such as Victoria’s Secret and the Gap.
The Gap was formerly H&M’s uttermost competitor, but retreated from its Germany-based locations in early 2004. The German stores were the Gap’s smallest international operation, but the deal secured H&M’s European market capture considerably.
H&M Clothing stores are an innovative, progressive, and fashion-forward brand for today’s contemporary looks. The brand is gaining fast appreciation in the U.S. and Canada, and will continue to grow and establish new markets. The familiar territories in Europe are heavily competitive with the Gap, Express brands, and other medium-to-high end retailers. H&M brings some budget-minded pricing strategies, and fast merchandise turnover for today’s retail markets.