The Swedish young fashion giant introduces its first Divided standalone to the UK.
By 3pm a posse of half-term hoodies had gathered outside the shuttered entrance in Camden, north London, three hours before H&M was due to swing open the doors of its first Divided standalone in the UK. A 25% discount for the first 250 customers was hardly enough to attract the “whatever” generation – pocket money budgets or otherwise. Decked out in their nu-rave finery, these potential Skins extras were lured more by the chance to shop at one of the hottest and most affordable young fashion collections on the high street, in an atmosphere that is more indie gig than fashion boutique.
“The Divided customer is fashion- conscious, into both music and youth culture,” says H&M UK and Ireland country manager Magnus Olsson. “We think the Divided brand and Camden make the perfect fit. We’ve been looking for the right unit in Camden for a long time because the area embodies the spirit of Divided in terms of its fashion scene, music credentials and its young culture.”
The 8,220sq ft store is brightly lit and more spacious than H&M’s usual environs. Spread over two floors, the ground floor is a shrine to the men’s Divided Blue collection, with a back corner providing a colour-drenched glimpse of jersey and denim-led women’s range, Divided Red.
The bespoke fixtures and fittings, designed by H&M’s in-house retail team in Stockholm, are characterised by an ecru tubular steel hanging system and oversized gold painted speakers, which provide a platform for mannequins as well as shelving for folded garments. Bright fluorescent strip lights are attached to tubular fixtures and suspended from the ceiling to create a stark feel that is part warehouse, part nightclub.
An exposed ceiling of air ducts with an all-over grey wash is mirrored by a matt grey resin-coated floor. The industrial vibe is reinforced by the blocky cash desks and fitting rooms. Three bright blue till points dominate the lower ground floor, accessed via an architectural glass and steel staircase.
Bright green fitting rooms with bronze highlights add to the look and there is plenty of space for wheelchair access, as well as a brass-clad elevator. The shop is full of subtle, quirky details exemplified by the block red concertina-framed accessories display unit with mirrored wall and ceiling section.
Mannequins are generally displayed in threes, providing ideas for complete looks pertinent to each section – the mannequins downstairs, in the section dedicated to the more edgy Divided Black womenswear range, show three summer print dresses with a focus on multi-coloured zebra stripes.
The store scores points for the sincere statement it makes to its target customer group. But, more importantly, this shop uses clear visual merchandising (by product category or trend) coupled with an unusual amount of space between product displays, providing a comfortable retail experience.
Divided by H&M, 213-219 Camden High Street, London NW1
8,220sq ft: Trading space of the Divided store
5: Number of Divided standalones in continental Europe
6: Number of till points at the Camden store