Who shops at H&M now? Gone are the days of the brand being urban destination shopping, as they have defined fast fashion over the past decade, taking over malls, replacing Gaps and J.Crews with their Beckham underwear and brilliant collaborations. But who shops there now?
This question is a reaction to two things. First, COS. The H&M offshoot is a slightly more expensive, similar quality minimalist brand that appeals to the more adult H&M shopper. They, like original H&M, are not as abundant and cater to a more urban, aesthetic focused, sophisticated shopper. The average H&M shopper—teens, budget shoppers, the heartland—aren’t necessarily interested in this.
Second, H&M Men is hoping to “reinvent” and “elevate” their style this Fall. The results are a mashing of COS’ minimalism with more trendy pieces. The collection stands between old H&M and new H&M. It’s fast fashion for the slow.
And that gets back at who H&M hopes to court into stores now: with Zara and Topshop and Forever 21 and Uniqlo similarly dominating fast fashion circuits, how does the original brand define itself in 2016? Seemingly with said high end collaborations and that lean toward COS, luxury done in their quaint, asymmetrical Swedish way. This is a smart move to focus on design and uniqueness at a low cost versus designer imposing and third party absorbency. It takes the brand back to the roots.
Is that fast fashion? Yes and no. Like Oak was to American Apparel, before the brand bought itself back, luxury is coming out of the low-end circuit with COS and, eventually, the line between the two blurs. It’s the same execution with a different aesthetic and, at some point, these things collide.
There’s something to be said about H&M courting its original shoppers, people now in their mid-thirties and late forties who have aged out of the brand. COS catches them now but, based on this new mens collection, H&M might be attempting to rebel against their teen shoppers by trying to court back older audiences they once had captured by affordable design. No, the store isn’t as avant guard as COS but it needn’t be: it’s H&M. Their job is to teach you how their brand fits into your brand of personal style. We’ll see what happens next.