So after six months of anticipation speculation, a little confusion, and plenty of hype from the fashion crowd, H&M’s new high-end label, & Other Stories, finally launches in London today and last night I went to the preview, checked out the collections, picked up a few treats and generally became a fan in a matter of minutes.
Before I arrived I have to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect, I know there have been a few teasers, but really what did they tell us other than it was quite similar to COS, I pondered the price ranges, which are closer to COS than H&M, and I was even asking myself whether the high street needed another H&M/COS spin-off. Basically, a lot of my hesitation about the brand had to be the name – why ‘& Other Stories’, which for some reason I have a hard time saying it always comes out ‘another stories’ or ‘other stores’ – it just didn’t have a fashion feel about it.
Last night all those hesitations totally went out of the window, H&M can call their stores whatever they want especially when they make make them like this. For me ‘& Other Stories’, which is being billed as a ‘one stop shop’ is more than just clothes, which to be honest wasn’t the main focus when I was looking around, this store is about all the added extras that make up a great look – the bits I love, the handbags, the jewellery, the incredible shoes, and I literally fell in love with the beauty emporium – more than 40 nail varnish colours, gorgeous skincare, cute make-up palettes and a body and bath range that I can’t wait to try.
As with the branding and the minimalistic approach to the marketing the store itself has a striped back industrial feel that I am calling warehouse chic. I loved the bare floors, the exposed walls, the white finishes, the scaffolding staircase, and the incredible lighting rigs acting as spotlights – as well as the graph paper lined counters, the glass cases and the mannequins.
But what caught my eye walking around were all the postcards featuring the products styled up – it was like one of my favourite fashion magazines had done a shoot with all my favourite pieces. They not only showcased the items in a different light, they inspired me to want to wear something news, and they highlighted the added extras – which for me is the pull of this new store.
Jewellery & Accessories:
As ‘& Other Stories’ is anchored around personal style rather than trends the jewellery and accessories really do have a prominent position in the store, which for me is amazing as I hate having to find the darkened corner to pick a new sparkle to jazz up an old look. From industrial heavy necklaces to dainty rings and adorable bow cuffs, having the jewellery and accessories dotted around the store mixed in with the ready-to-wear pieces really does help build an outfit.
As you know I love a good handbag but I find the high street lacks in the quality department, I am drawn to a number of designs in Topshop and Zara but the quality just isn’t up to the standards of my designer varieties, well I think ‘& Other Stories’ is going to become known for the place to buy a leather handbag that is made well, looks different, I loved all the scalloped edging, and is affordable. Bags I loved last night ranged from £55 to £195 – all leather, all beautiful, and all guaranteed to hurt my credit card!!!
So H&M has become known for their designer collaborations with the likes of Versace, Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney, well ‘& Other Stories’ have decided to collaborate with a range of up-and-coming designers to enhance its own brand pieces. You have a gorgeous collection of leather embossed handbags designed by Los Angeles-based designer Clare Vivier (pictured above), I am in love with her yellow cross-body bag, super chic transparent brogues from Abigail Lorick Im, and incredible sexy lingerie from The Lake and Stars.
Another hot draw to ‘& Other Stories’ is going to be the footwear department on the second floor, filled with edgy sculptural pieces, black mules with chunky heels, vibrant flats, and to-die for wedges and ankle boots. There was so much to choose from – but these were my favourites – I need these bright wedges in my life for summer!!!
Finally but certainly not least is the beauty department and probably one of my favourite aspects of this new store. It is unusual for a high street brand to place so much on the beauty but ‘& Other Stories’ have put together a beauty section to rival any department store. Centred around the philosophy that ‘every look starts with a healthy skin’ this section has everything you could need make-up, skincare, bath and body products, brushes, nail varnishes, the list is endless and all products are presented in minimal packaging that is just divine.
Sorry for such a long post but as you can see there is lots to see in the store and if you are interesting in seeing more of the collections head on over to my Facebook page as there are over 100 piccies from last night’s event. Plus head back over the weekend as I will be doing a more detailed review of the beauty offering which I can’t stop gushing about!!!
If you are in London head on over to the store on Regents Street – and don’t forget to let me know what you think of the new brand from H&M.
**All pictures taken by me, Fashionista Barbie**