H&M is ready to experiment.
The fast-fashion retailer this month opened a new concept space, or what the company calls a “store experience,” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A first of its kind for the brand, the New York location is over 7,000 square feet and is meant to be an experimental destination that allows shoppers to explore style in a community setting.
The space features a curated selection of the retailer’s products and hosts exclusive programming.
"With H&M Williamsburg we threw out the traditional store playbook to build something unexpected that embodies who we are as a brand today," Linda Li, head of customer activation and marketing for H&M Americas, said in a statement. "We're inviting both our loyal fans and new customers to experience H&M in a new light — marrying style, culture and exclusive experiences at our new home in Williamsburg."
The store experience, which will be open until January 2024, will rotate every four to 12 weeks to reveal a new “chapter” that includes updated fashion, visuals and events along with local partners.
The first chapter centers on H&M’s holiday featuring “Brasserie Hennes,” or the retailer’s interpretation of a French brasserie in the winter. Merchants local to Williamsburg will sell seasonal goods from Dec. 1 through Dec. 30, with products like scents, home goods, vintage items, accessories and beauty.
Shoppers walk through different tableaus that are merchandised in a way to help them imagine the places they could wear the retailer’s clothing, accessories and footwear.
Most of the apparel in the space serves as display garments, according to a company spokesperson. Shoppers can request styles, looks and sizes via smart mirrors that are in fitting rooms.
Checkout takes place at a front register, or mobile checkout with the retailer’s style guides can take place anywhere in the store.
Activations at the space begin in 2023 and will occur two times a week with a focus on art, fashion, music and local businesses and personalities. A neighborhood partner will curate offerings for events each Friday.
While the space is ripe for change and product cultivation, certain elements will remain consistent. At the start of 2023, a number of partnerships from Brooklyn-based brands will have dedicated space and provide a coffee station, a magazine rack and music.
In a recent nine-month report, H&M’s net sales increased by 13% year over year. The company also stated that a cost and efficiency program has been launched to streamline the business. Part of that is renegotiating leases as a component of the retailer’s store optimization strategy. This year there will be a net decrease of around 165 locations (excluding those in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine), and store openings will be in growth markets.
“Long-term initiatives to meet customers’ ever-increasing expectations are continuing,” CEO Helena Helmersson said in a statement. “This involves ensuring the best customer offering for all the brands and the best customer experience.”
That idea in Williamsburg translates to a space that is ready to meet its community.
H&M Williamsburg is located at 92 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, New York.