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fashion: overview

Premium economyPremium economy

Like the premium economy class on airlines, Cos is Hennes & Mauritz’s way of extending its market upwards
photographed by Chris Moore


HENNES & MAURITZ might be reinventing the wheel with its Cos line. The idea: create a value line which sits above the regular H&M range. But is this not where many other labels have rested for years?

As an idea, it’s sound: occupy the cheaper end of the market, and after many years, when the market is right, introduce a more premium range. Honda did it with Acura and Toyota with Lexus. The big fashion labels go downward from their luxury positions: Hugo Boss with Boss, for example. World, as we noted here in Lucire, diversified into corporate clothing in a collaboration with Deane Apparel.

After exploring the idea of accessible luxury with its collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney, a slight move upmarket for H&M can assure growth for the Swedish-HQed group.

Æsthetically, the Cos collection is a bit more colourful, a little less hippie-chic, than some of the core H&M designs. But it’s not a huge departure for the company: this is still ready-to-wear stuff that’s extremely casual and fun. In other words, it should sell well: it’s well positioned with inoffensive mass-market appeal.

The company itself says Cos—officially spelt by H&M in all caps—has a ‘commitment to both design and affordability, where meticulously produced garments [do] anything but skyrocket in price’. Its première collection is inspired by the 1950s and 1960s, using clean lines with some nods to the volume trend seen on catwalks for the autumn season. The modernist look is in line with consumer expectations as 2007 comes to a close, something we forecast as a revived design movement as early as January 2004. Another check mark for H&M.

The company claims to have a more individual colour palette (‘from signature crisp white, soft sandy neutrals, powdery blushes and Mod-ish pastels [sun-faded coral; melon yellow and pale mint] through to dramatic darks [oil slick purple, midnight navy, tobacco brown and black].’ Textural finishes include washed, waxed and tightly woven surfaces.

Despite this, those seeking “premium H&M”—just as those who fly premium economy on airlines—will still find the range fairly recognizable, as it is created internally by the company.

The brand is in its own stores, initially in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. København and Antwerpen are next on the list, along with a second store in Berlin.


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