Bloggers, beware your pocketbooks. Last week our beloved fast fashion store H&M confirmed to WWD that a new wave of stores will debut in 2013. We’re not talking additional locations, as heavenly as that sounds. The Swedish retail giant we know for offering a quick fashion fix on the uber-cheap will be offering up a luxury chain with an equally high-end price point. The powers that be from H&M corporate have remained fairly quiet about the new chain, but one can only speculate that the idea comes after many successful designer collaborations, proving that the masses want higher fashion and they’re willing to pay a little bit more for it. H&M has had numerous successful designer collaborations starting with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld to most recently Versace and Marni.
So on one hand, it makes complete sense that H&M would attempt a foray into the lap of luxury. Since the introduction of these collaborations at H&M and beyond, fast fashion has taken on a new definition. Opening the store in the morning is a prepared-for event and clothing literally flies off the hangers – this coveted merchandise moves faster than anything else in the store. Suddenly pieces by iconic designers could be afforded by normal people, albeit for just a little bit more money. It’s quite possibly the best display of fashion democracy since the party itself.
But while collaborations have pushed higher price points, the pricing for the new chain is unreleased and one has to wonder if the new stores will be attainable at all to H&M-ites around the world. After all, H&M has built a brand based on just three things – affordability, fashion forwardness, and a decent level of quality. So it seems a little counter-intuitive for a brand that is everything we want to make a luxury line, right? To put it simply, it ain’t broke. But a lot of us are. So why raise the price?
In fact, we live in an age where designer collaborations have gone from being a novelty to a tried and true staple. The initial goal of the collaborations was to apt up the brand and in some cases to save it altogether during this failing economy. It’s no coincidence that Sears announced the closure of 120 stores at about the same time that the former retail giant began a collaboration with the Kardashians. Before, the average person might splurge on some Marni platforms. Now the average person splurges on Marni for H&M. It’s all relative. If the average person could afford to spurge on the real deal, you better believe they would.
It makes you wonder if this is the way that fast fashion retailers of the now will start going. Is it H&M today and Forever21 tomorrow? Is anyone going to look past Divided and shell up the cash to shop H&M’s sister company?
My speculation is that the new H&M chain will be less like luxury, more like TopShop – an overpriced version of itself. Only 2013 will tell.