H&M in BCN- fast fashion for a bargain price
With over 2,000 stores spread out across 37 countries H&M has come far from its early beginnings in Sweden when Erling Presson combined his Hennes clothing store for women with the left over inventory of a hunting equipment store in Stockholm called Mauritz Widfross hence the name Hennes & Mauritz which was later whittled down to the cooler abbreviation of H&M. On paper its sounds like a disaster however ask its current 76,000 employees around the world if Mr. Presson’s idea of applying the same clothing retail strategy he had seen at stores like Macy’s and Barneys during a visit to the United States to his Vasteras store turned out well.
Long gone is the hunting gear but what remains is a high volume chain of fashionable clothing’s stores for the whole family that people can’t seem to get enough of.
For the last two decades H&M has gone to great efforts in world denomination catering to the culture of disposable clothing or to put it more gently, fast fashion that allows the average Joe (and Jane) to maintain a fashionable image staying current with the revolving door of fashion trends.
Plenty have thanked the heavens for H&M who have not only done an exceptional job of mimicking the style of luxury fashion houses and blending it with the street style seen on real people but also have become pioneers in championing the low –end mega designer capsule collection phenomenon.
Working with the very designers H&M knocks off, they have partnered with likes of the Mr. Chic Karl Lagerfeld, pop-icon Madonna and most recently Tamara Mellon of Jimmy Choo. It´s safe to say that H&M started the trend that soon stores like Top Shop and Mango followed suit after seeing publicity and sales that such collaborations brought to the retail giant.
When the news hit that H&M was coming to the US with its first location scheduled for 5th Avenue in New York City, women went berserk. I am talking uptown socialites and downtown artists that favored wallet-busting fashions found in boutiques on Madison Avenue and in SoHo were in a frenzy to be the FIRST to shop at the Swedish Hennes & Mauritz.
I caught the bug too. We, as in I and my girlfriends, stood in line when the Stella McCartney collection was released in stores thrilled with the idea of not having to spend half of a month’s rent on a dress that would be ‘’Out’’ in a matter of months.
However in the last 5 years I stopped going to H&M. I was over the chaotic crowds, the swap meet-like environment and the less than impeccable fit of the clothes. But my shopping habits aren’t even a blip on their radar. There are plenty of other fans to keep them in business including millions of Spanish fashion victims.
Coming to Barcelona you shouldn’t be surprised at the number of H&M locations. In the 1990’s Spain along with Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and the Netherlands were prime targets in H&M’s growth strategy. Since opening, it’s provided consistent competition for other homebred fast fashion brands like Zara and Mango with 11 stores all of which do a swift business.
On a recent outing with a friend who dragged me into one of its newest locations on Avenida Portal de L’Angel, which was oddly placed directly across the street from another H&M store the place was crawling with vacation shoppers who plucked through racks of clothes to the beat of the pop music that was blaring over the sound system.
The store across the street, H&M Portal d L’Angel #2, which is actually their flagship, had a completely different vibe with broader yet upscale selection of merchandise. What I had uncovered by accident was that unlike Massimo Dutti, for example the H&M stores are somewhat thematic depending on their location. In other words, not all BCN H&M stores are created equal. Some have larger children’s departments than others while there are stores that simply carry urban streetwear (cool denim and T-shirts) for men and women.
During a visit to Barcelona H&M isn’t a fundamental stop on a tour of shopping destinations but can fill a void quickly and cheaply in your travel wardrobe if necessary. For costume jewelry and the random accessory to complete an outfit its also useful but if you want something different that is unique to Barcelona or that no one at home will be able to buy skip the urge to buy just because you’re on vacation. H&M fashion is replicated in all their stores leaving with zero opportunity to find something special.
H&M Store Locations:
Paseo de Gracia 9
Calle La Rambla 131
Calle Portaferrissa 16
Avenida Diagonal 579
Avenida Diagonal 208
Avenida Diagonal 3
Plaza Cataluyna 9
Avenida Portal de l’Angel 20 – 22
Avenida Portal de l’Angel 3
Moll Espana S/N
Calle Ciutat d’Asuncion S/N