MANILA, Philippines – After a long wait, H&M is making its presence in Manila felt with a brand new permanent showroom to accompany the launch of its first store in the 3rd quarter of 2014. (READ: H&M first PH store: Opening date revealed)
We won’t mince words: the venue is stunning, and the clothes are as we expect from H&M: well made and ranging from basic separates to the trendier streetwear.
Before you gear up to shop away, there are a few things we learned or confirmed following our chat with H&M Philippines’ Showroom Manager, Nikki Verzo:
1. It’s going to be huge. The store will have 3 floors, span over 3,000 square meters, and will not skimp on the departments that have made H&M a one-stop shop for shoppers everywhere. H&M Philippines will carry clothes for newborns, children, women and men. (READ: H&M CEO on opening first PH store: What took them so long?)
The brand will also carry other lines within H&M, such as the trendier Divided line, as well as pieces from the Conscious collection.
And aside from the affordable, accessible pieces, look for investment pieces from the more premium Studio collection. Though not all the prices have been finalized just yet, Nikki says that some of the jackets (if you ask us, the highlight of this line) start at about a few thousand pesos onwards.
According to their press release, key pieces in H&M Studio for autumn/winter 2014 include: “slip dress, biker jacket, draped top and trousers, aviator jacket, patchwork fake fur coat, wide trousers, cashmere knits.”
2. The first branch will open in SM Mega Fashion Hall, and H&M itself is the force behind its own strategic arrival in the Philippines.
What took them so long? Timing, apparently.
“To H&M, coming into a particular market, it’s not a race – it’s not about who arrives first, it’s a very controlled process. Because it follows a global standard, it’s very meticulous. It’s just going back to us not going into a particular area just because we can,” says Nikki.
The H&M Philippines team works with the regional brand team, as well with the head office in Sweden.
3. H&M will adopt the global returns and exchanges policy, which means that shoppers will have 30 days to exchange or return purchased items. Yes, that includes a full refund, if that’s what you need.
4. Confirmed: The Alexander Wang collection will be coming to Manila, but everything’s hush-hush. “The information has been very much kept under wraps – it’s been trickling in,” says Nikki. “The only thing we can confirm is that we will follow the global drop, which is November 6.”
Back in April, fans went berserk at news that cool-as-ice designer Alexander Wang, creative director of Balenciaga, was collaborating with H&M. This follows the brand’s many other much buzzed-about pairings with fashion personalities like Anna Dello Russo, and brands like Lanvin and Versace. (READ: 5 things to know: Alexander Wang x H&M)
5. The prices will be just as competitive as those in the other stores abroad. Sales will likely follow a similar pattern.
“At the end of the day, we are a global brand, we work with global partners, so what you would see in other markets would be very much similar to what we would have here,” assures Nikki. “Some of the variation would fall on taxation, all of those nitty gritty details, but all in all, the prices are very, very competitive, very similar to our sister markets.”
To give you an idea, though most prices were not on display at the showroom, one slinky, strappy black dress was going for P899 (about US $20.5).
6. 80% of the merchandise will follow the global dictates. 20% of the merchandise will be adjusted according to the needs of the local market. This means you may just be able to pick up those chunky knits and heavy sweaters so popular in the Autumn/Winter collections, even if there’s no actual fall in the Philippines.
What’s in it for the rest of the 20%?
“It’s reflective of how we adapt to certain market conditions…the 20% is just your pickings of cold weather pieces, for example – or some of our other markets may not have as wide a range of tropical items. But the stores will really carry the same spirit, the same look and feel of our collections.”
And while there’s nothing definite, that 20% makes us think that one day seeing a Pinoy designer working jointly on a collection with H&M is possible – though there’s been no talk of that just yet.
7. What about an online store? With an understanding grin – who wouldn’t want to be able to get their fix online? – Nikki says: “That’s something that hasn’t been totally explored yet. We’re definitely putting all of our efforts into the first opening.”
Will you be first in line come opening day? What are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments below. – Rappler.com
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