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Austin/San Francisco, TX/CA, United States
I'm a young Stylish Fashionista, basic Bad Ass with a really killer wardrobe. Working in Austin TX and San Francisco CA constantly surrounded by Chic people and Fab places. I hope you enjoy musing on the Fashion,Design,Photography and Events and everything else people would find Fab and Chic

Monday, January 24, 2011

H&M Comes to Texas

Marques G. Harper, Style & Substance

One of the fast-fashion Goliaths finally is coming to Texas.

That's right. H&M, the international store readers have asked me about for years, announced last week that it will open a 24,000-square-foot store ... in Dallas. Yup, at NorthPark Center in the second half of 2011.

Thankfully, they announced something, because I was getting tired of being seduced by the clothes in commercials during "Cougar Town" and "90210" only to discover they were H&M spots.

And why should you care about H&M eventually coming to Austin?

H&M has the cool factor that other stores wish for, and it competes with brands such as Zara, Uniqlo, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and Topshop. H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, which was founded in 1947 in Sweden by Erling Persson, has helped define the fashion-forward and disposable style of the decade. To its credit, H&M has quickly jumped on fashion trends and offered them for less than other competitors, had design collaborations with Jimmy Choo, Madonna, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Comme des Garçons, Karl Lagerfeld and others, and stayed appealing to teens as well adults in their 20s through 50s.

Unfortunately, we're going to miss the new designer collaboration with Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz and H&M that will debut this month, with clothes for men and women. (Guess we'll have to travel to another H&M city.) Or do as Kristen Chin, a publicist for POM Public Relations, might: Phone friends in California, where H&M's stores are as plentiful as reality stars, and have the goodies shipped here.

But aside from that, unless you go to Big D often, having an H&M in Dallas means little. Because H&M doesn't have a U.S. online store like Topshop, the British retailer that's selling Kate Moss's limited-edition collection, I'll have to continue shopping at H&M in New York and New Jersey during holiday and summer visits. It's just more convenient.

Until the Dallas store opens, the closest H&M stores to Austin, by car, are in Atlanta, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., and Scottsdale and Tucson, Ariz. The closest store to the Texas state line is at the Tucson Mall in Arizona.

I've heard rumbles that H&M is looking at real estate in the Houston market. So maybe Houston is next on the list. I hope H&M doesn't follow in Zara's footsteps. It took Zara, another one of the world's largest fashion retailers, years to open a store here at the Domain. Houston's Zara location, for example, opened in 2006 and ours did in 2009.

Like American Apparel's rise, H&M has had a rapid U.S. expansion in the past decade. H&M's chief executive officer, Karl-Johan Persson, has said the brand will continue to expand in this country. So far, H&M has about 2,000 stores in 37 countries — and until now, the world's third-largest fashion retailer, which reported a near 23 percent rise in third-quarter net profit this year, completely had bypassed this country's second-largest state.

I called H&M last week to see if an Austin store is in the works, and got this statement from spokeswoman Nicole Christie: "At this time, we do not have plans for an Austin store, but look forward to continued expansion in the Texas market as a part of H&M's focus on providing fashion-forward style to customers in new markets. Austin is a very important retail market, and we hope to be there in the future; however, right now we are excited about opening our first Texas location at NorthPark Center in Dallas in 2011."

And future could mean anytime this decade, I guess. Well, if H&M ever arrives in A-Town, the addition would boost foot traffic in a spot such as the second phase of the Domain, the Second Street shopping district or the Hill Country Galleria.

Chin, a long-time H&M shopper, said she'll probably bypass the Dallas store and pick up inexpensive tops, jackets, accessories and other goods when visiting California.

"I'm excited they are bringing it to Texas because it will make it a little more accessible," she said. "I hope we'll be next. I probably would go to the San Francisco store before the Dallas store. But at least it's getting closer."

Chin, 33, walked into her first H&M store during college.

"I remember the very first piece I bought," she told me the other day. "It was a lime-green lambswool cardigan with a faux fur collar. I had it for a long time. I got it in London. This was probably 1998. When it finally came to the States, it was amazing."

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