Vasteras is a city in central Sweden, and is one of the oldest in the country and in Northern Europe. Its main tourist attraction is its Flight Museum which offers visitors an opportunity to try out one of its flight simulators. People from other parts of the country also go to this city during the winter, when Lake Malaren freezes over and becomes one big skating rink.
But those in the fashion industry know Vasteras as the home of one of the bigger fashion companies in the world – H&M. It was in this small city west of Stockholm where this fashion giant started in 1947, with a store named Hennes, selling women’s clothing. Through the years, Hennes became a popular brand in Sweden and continued to grow in domestic sales.
In 1968, its founder Erling Persson bought a hunting and fishing equipment store named Mauritz Widforss, adding men’s and children’s clothing to its line, under its new name, Hennes & Mauritz. But six years later, as it grew even bigger, the company listed itself in the Stockholm Stock Exchange as “H&M.”
Last year, the company posted close to $24 billion in worldwide gross sales, from more than 3,500 stores in 61 countries, manned by approximately 94,000 employees. No doubt, the tiny store that started in Vasteras 68 years ago has become a global fashion brand under the H&M Group, offering fashion for everyone under its many brands – H&M, Weekday, Other Stories, Cheap Monday, Monki and COS, as well as home furnishings under H&M Home.
What makes H&M even more significant is the fact that it has become a training “school” for budding designers. In fact, many of Sweden’s popular designers of today have been employed by and have learned their craft from the fashion giant at one time or another.
So what makes H&M designs stand out in the international scene? When you see their mannequins “swishing” along the fashion ramp, you’ll notice their apparel is trendy, wearable, functional, has toned down colors and a refined look. Swedish fashion has always followed the principle of “less is more.”
Not too long ago, H&M Philippines presented a preview of their Autumn/Winter H&M Studio collection at the Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City, which buzzed with excitement as the brand flaunted sporty futurism and starburst shine in the galaxy-themed venue.
Seen bubbling with enthusiasm were the local H&M officers, press and communications manager Dan Mejia and showroom manager Nikki Verzo, together with key style figures Sarah Meier, Jenni Epperson and Pam Quinones. Guests were treated to a sumptuous sit-down dinner, while DJs Mars Miranda and Kat Razon kept the party spirit on fire with the latest and hottest beats.
Local fashion enthusiasts are happy that the Swedish apparel giant has opened a number of outlets in the country, in line with its direction of spreading affordable Swedish style around the globe. Who would think that a small, nondescript store in a not-too-popular city in central Sweden would eventually conquer the world through fashion? Could it be the Viking blood in the Swedes? I’ve always been interested to find out what made those Vikings brave conquerors of their era. The only Vikings I know make me put on a lot of weight through the million calories on their buffet. Hmph!
YOUR MONDAY CHUCKLE:
An ugly, fat, bad woman with two kids enters a supermarket, shouting angrily at the kids with no reason. The man at the counter says cheerfully, “Good morning, Ma’am, welcome! Cute kids! Are they twins?” The horrible woman stopped shouting, just enough to say, “Hell, they’re not twins. One is nine and the other is seven. Are you blind or just stupid?” “No, Ma’am, I’m neither blind nor stupid. I just can’t believe there’s a man out there who had sex with you twice.”
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