- Marjorie van Elven |
H&M is undoubtedly one of the most successful fashion companies of our time. But as consumers question the social and environmental impacts of the fast fashion model and online players such as Asos and Boohoo offer fierce competition, the last decade has seen the Swedish apparel giant looking to rely less on its namesake brand. In the last two years alone, the H&M Group has launched Arket, a fast fashion disrupter offering “durable products designed to be used and loved for a long time”; Afound, a marketplace selling discounted fashion items from internal and external labels; and /Nyden, an affordable luxury brand aimed at millennials. All that while debuting the first standalone H&M Home stores and expanding the homeware product offering.
But now we’re seeing the conglomerate take a step back and axe labels that don’t deliver from the portfolio. The H&M Group announced today that it will be closing down Cheap Monday, an affordable denim label purchased in 2008 from Fabric Scandinavien BV, which also owned the brands Weekday and Monki. Although Cheap Monday did operate standalone stores including a flagship in London’s Carnaby Street, its business model relied mostly on a network of over 3,000 wholesalers worldwide. “It is very important to be close to the consumer when consumer behavior is changing rapidly. Our strategy forward does not include to work with middlemen such as agents and distributors”, said H&M’s spokesperson Karina Kempe in an email to FashionUnited. 80 employees will be affected by the closure.
Could /Nyden be next?
/Nyden might be the next one to meet the same fate. In October, just six months after its launch, the label which was first intended to be independent was moved into H&M’s website, following the dismissal of founder, CEO and creative director Oscar Olsson in July. 12 employees were laid off in the process. While Kempe defines /Nyden as “an innovation product to test out various things” and says the move into H&M was “so that we could develop the results of the project further on larger platforms”, the velocity with which changes were made raises eyebrows about the brand’s future.
However, despite of these recent steps back, it seems that the way for the H&M Group is forward and expansion is still the name of the game. The company claims to see “good opportunities for continued growth and profitability” for all of its other brands, which include & Other Stories (launched in 2013) and COS (2007). The latter has just opened its very first store in Russia, while Weekday is set to open in Iceland, Luxembourg and Belgium in 2019. Arket’s online store in Norway is also in the works for next spring.
Picture: H&M Newsroom