H&M launches latest guest line: Comme des Garcons

Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:35am EST
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By Veronica Ek

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Hennes & Mauritz, the fashion giant noted for its high-profile guest designers, on Thursday launched new lines by Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kawakubo.

About 100 shoppers queued outside a large company store in Stockholm as clothing and accessories by Kawakubo, known for flouting traditional rules of design, went on sale.

Past launches -- including those by Roberto Cavalli and Stella McCartney -- have generated frenzied scenes as shoppers sought to buy chic designs at cut-rate prices. Last year's Cavalli collection sold out within minutes.

But this year's launch - targeted at some 200 of more than 1,600 stores around the world - looked like a calmer affair, reflecting the somber mood among consumers as they grapple with the global financial crisis.

H&M spokeswoman Kristina Stenvinkel declined to compare the launch with last year's in terms of crowd size or excitement. "I think we have had a nice atmosphere this year," Stenvinkel said.

Soren Lontoft Hansen, analyst at Sydbank, said collaborative launches were a key plank in H&M's strategy and the new line fitted in well with a push into Japan.

"And in these times of economic downturn, I think customers will go toward the lower-price segment," Hansen said, adding H&M was outperforming its rivals.

"Looking at the sales figures, although the like-for-like figures have been negative for the past three to four months, H&M is taking market shares from competitors in main markets like Sweden and Germany."   Continued...

<p>People are reflected in a window of a H&amp;M store on the first day of their Comme des Garcons collaboration launch on Oxford Street in central London November 13, 2008. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs</p>