Hennes and Mauritz turn to Stella McCartney for autumn line

(AFP) High fashion will once again be available and affordable at mass-market retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H & M) stores when designer Stella McCartney's collection for the chain hits the shelves next autumn, the company said on Wednesday.

The daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney “will design a women’s wear collection of around 40 items to be produced and distributed by H & M under the label ‘Stella McCartney for H & M'”, the company said in a statement.

McCartney’s line will be the Swedish retailer’s second venture into the world of high fashion after its hugely popular collection by German designer Karl Lagerfeld last autumn.

“Designing a one off collection for H & M is one of the most exciting and innovative ways to introduce my clothes to a broader range of women,” said McCartney, who in a joint venture with Gucci launched her eponymous label in 2001.

The collection is set to go on sale in November and will be available in selected H & M stores across Europe and North America, the company said.

McCartney has already begun working on the new line, but H & M spokeswoman Liv Asarnoj told AFP it was too early to say how many copies of each garment would be made. The company was criticized last year when its limited Lagerfeld collection was cleaned out within hours of going on sale.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Stella McCartney… Her designs are modern and cool yet classic and wearable. We have long admired her sense of tailoring and femininity,” H & M head of design Margareta van den Bosch said in the company statement.

“Consumer research further confirmed the strong appeal of her brand,” she added.

H & M did not reveal the size of its budget for the Stella McCartney project or how much it expected to rake in on the collection.


H&M competitor to sponsor Sweden’s Olympic team

Six months after establishing itself in Stockholm, Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has announced it will sponsor Sweden’s athletes at the 2020 Olympics.

H&M competitor to sponsor Sweden's Olympic team
Anna Hasselborg of Sweden's curling team tries out new kit supplied for the country's athletes by Uniqlo. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The clothing chain, one of the world’s fastest-growing retail companies, is also set to open more stores in the Scandinavian country.

“Swedes are so sophisticated and warm-hearted,” Uniqlo Europe CEO Taku Morikawa said, stressing how welcome his company has been made to feel.

Morikawa was in Sweden to present the partnership between Uniqlo and the Swedish Olympic Committee at an event at Uniqlo’s store on Hamngatan in Stockholm.

Sweden’s athletes wore teamwear supplied by H&M at the last two Olympic Games.

The Stockholm store, Uniqlo’s first in the Nordic region, opened its doors in August 2018. An expansion is now planned on the Swedish market, although Morikawa declined to reveal where.

“We definitely have plans to open more stores here,” he said.

A store will also open in Danish capital Copenhagen in the coming spring as Uniqlo’s holding company Fast Retailing continues its global expansion.

Sales figures in Sweden’s clothing retail sector have seen a downward trend in recent years, with an exception in 2015.

H&M is usually cited as one of Uniqlo’s main competitors.

The impact of a new player on an already-competitive market is difficult to predict, according to the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel).

“Locally, competition is sharpened, but competition is already fierce. I would be inclined to say that this type of partly new concept store can, instead, help to revitalise the physical retail sector for clothing,” the association’s head economist Johan Davidson said.  

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