& Other Stories opens in Singapore: what you need to know about ‘cool girl’ fashion and lifestyle brand, part of H&M
- H&M Group’s cult label & Other Stories opened its first Southeast Asia store in Singapore, and is looking to learn what customers in the region want from it
- The brand’s global design centres all produce different collections and, unlike fast fashion it makes clothes with a long lifespan, its managing director says
For months, fashion lovers in Singapore walked by a boarded-up shop on the third floor of Ion Orchard, a popular shopping centre in the city state’s main retail district. Those in the know would pause in excitement and wonder when it would finally open.
It has become de rigueur for many travelling shopaholics to stop at an & Other Stories store if they happen to be in the same city – be it Paris, Copenhagen or Rome – as one.
Now there is less of a journey for its Southeast Asia-based fans – the August opening of the 560 square metre (6,000 square foot) Ion Orchard store means the brand has made its debut in the region.
“We couldn’t be happier to reach Singapore and see our stories come to life here,” says managing director Lina Soderqvist. “This is a strategically important first store in Southeast Asia. Singapore is a mix of so many different cultures, so we think we can learn a lot from the customers.
“We always enter a market in a very humble way to get to know exactly what the customer wants and likes with our brand. This customer insight is important for our further expansion here in the region.”
Soderqvist is not ruling out further expansion through Asia. “Nothing is concrete yet, but it is part of our internal road map to see in which markets and locations we should have physical stores. We are constantly looking for ways to find more customers that can be attracted to our brand.”
What makes Stories unique is its approach to designing collections. It has three design ateliers, in Los Angeles, Paris and Stockholm, that work independently to create different capsule collections across an eclectic range of styles.
Concept designer Shawna Trunk, of the LA atelier, explains: “The LA atelier is really bold, uses really bright energetic colours, is sassy and a little bit daring. I like to say she would rather be overdressed than underdressed at a party.
“Then we have Stockholm, [which] is a bit more edgy and minimal, definitely trend-driven but with classic essentials and tailoring. The Paris atelier’s collections are really feminine, beautiful, with delicate intricate detailing and grounded by classic heritage pieces.”
To better understand the preferences of the Asian market, the Ion store stocks the full collection of designs from the three ateliers. The buying patterns of customers may lead to the implementation of local adaptations, which the brand is known for. For instance, some regions that Stories serve receive a Ramadan collection.
“That all depends on how our customers and that market respond to our concept,” says Soderqvist.
The ateliers are one of the key differences that sets the “cool girl” label apart from its parent company’s other brands, such as H&M or Cos. Soderqvist believes there is room for the different brands in this market.
“We are targeting a very specific woman. Our positioning within the group is to cater to the fashion-loving woman who doesn’t go unnoticed,” says Soderqvist. “But we attract many women because we have diversified collections. So we also attract people who want to stand out and be more expressive in the way they dress.”
“We call them wardrobe treasures, garments that you want to keep in your wardrobe forever. It could be anything from a smashing dress to a sequin skirt to an elaborate blouse,” Soderqvist says.
Additionally, in a move once unheard of in the retail industry, Stories is exploring ways to “help people consume fashion” in other ways, such as via a partnership with a rental service.
Soderqvist says: “We are good at dresses, and some people may want a dress for just one occasion. And if you don’t want to buy it, you can rent it, so that’s a start.”