Swedish fast fashion giant H&M has confirmed the launch of a new fascia called Arket – a modern-day fashion market akin to US fashion retailer Anthropologie.
Arket, which means ”sheet of paper” in Swedish, will make its global debut in the former Banana Republic unit at 224 Regent Street in London in the autumn. It will launch online in 18 countries at the same time, and stores in Brussels, Copenhagen and Munich will follow. The store will offer own-label fashion and selected third-party brands, complete with an in-store cafe.
The retailer will sell “essential” high-quality products for men, women, kids and the home at affordable prices, covering everything from loungewear to tailoring, accessories to jewellery, as well as stationery and kitchen items. Prices will be slightly higher than those of H&M, and there will be an emphasis on materials, function and fit.
Arket claims to offer an “essence of beauty, simplicity and sustainability”. Its approach is reflected in the minimalist logo, which features a sans-serif type on a putty-coloured, suede-textured background.
The cafe’s ethos takes inspiration from the much in-demand new Nordic food culture, centred on quality ingredients and healthy living.
The food and drink production process will be on show to customers and it will have a friendly, humble and no-fuss approach to service, a job advert for a cafe department manager indicates.
“Scandinavian lifestyle is having a moment and I think the most interesting thing is the inclusion of an in-store cafe, which shows where retail is heading,” said Anusha Couttigane, senior analyst at Kantar Retail.
An in-store food or drink offer is a feature more commonly seen in independents and lifestyle concept stores, such as Paper Mache Tiger in Islington or Modern Society in Shoreditch, but it has been adopted by multiples, including John Lewis in its Loved & Found concept and Lululemon, which both offer in-store juice bars.
Fellow Regent Street fashion retailers with cafes include Burberry and Ralph Lauren.
Drapers exclusively reported last year that H&M was planning to bring a new fasica to Regent Street. One property source said that, while Regent Street has around 45% of the footfall of nearby Oxford Street, it has a strong reputation for premium and unique offers such as Arket’s.
Arket’s head office and design studio is located at Maria Skolgata 83 in Stockholm. It is led by managing director Lars Axelsson, who has worked with the H&M Group for more than 10 years.
He joined as business controller in 2006 and has held roles including head of merchandising in Toronto and London and operations manager in London, before becoming global sales manager of fellow H&M fascia & Other stories in October 2012. He started work on the development of the new fascia in January 2015.
Many of the founding team have come from within the H&M Group, such as product developer and buyer Christoffer Dellstrand, who was previously a buyer assistant at H&M; buyer Johanna Norrman, who was previously a junior buyer at H&M, and digital art director Kian Zubicky, who was previously art director at & Other Stories.
Menswear head of design Jesper Borjesson has been with the firm since October 2014 and was previously senior designer and product manager for Gant for almost three years from December 2011, and senior menswear designer at H&M from September 2010 to December 2011. Senior buyer for external brands Helen Stringer was previously a buyer for women’s brands at Urban Outfitters.
It is likely Arket will plump for third-party brands that are less well-known in the UK than some of its stablemates.
Scandinavian womenswear labels that are strong performers for contemporary and fashion-forward independents include Gestuz, Baum Und Pferdgarten, Bruuns Bazaar, House of Dagmar, Filippa K, Ganni and By Malene Birger.
For men, labels including Soulland, Libertine Libertine, Wood Wood, Samsøe & Samsøe, Stutterheim, Sandqvist and Uniforms for the Dedicated could also be on the shopping list.
Last month & Other Stories opened its third atelier in LA, joining existing design offices in Stockholm and Paris. LA-based designers Dakota Solt and Caity Knox head up the brand’s garment design there.
Currently all of Arket’s designers appear to be based in Stockholm, but this could be an option the retailer could explore in future.