Este Langeveldt heads out to Sweden and learns about a lot more than fashion

By admin
06 October 2015

Lifestyle editor Este Langeveldt shares some insights from her recent trip to Sweden ahead of fashion retailer H&M's launch in South Africa.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Stockholm to visit the home of H&M along with 7 other South African fashion editors and journalists.

We took a tour through their offices, attended a brand history talk; visited the various company departments, which include: Design, Color, Buying, etc and met with the leading company spokespeople.

H&M is spending a fortune with this launch. They flew about 100 of their store staff to Sweden and put them up for three months to go through intensive training (the reasoning behind this is, “When we do something, we do it right”).

Most of their staff have been with them for 20 years or longer so it’s obviously a good company to work for (they have 136 000 employees worldwide!)

There are a few things companies can learn from them. They make a LOT of effort to train their staff and everyone who works there (even the CEO) has to work in a retail shop for at least one week a year in order to stay in touch with their consumers.

They believe in “hire for personality, train for skills”.

Sustainability is very important to them. They feel that it’s their ethical and moral responsibility as one of the biggest users of organic cotton.

And all their suppliers must adhere to a code of conduct. They challenge governments to improve minimum wage where they don’t believe it to not be fair. As they put it: “It’s not enough to be a clean fish in dirty water.”

THE WOMEN'S FASHION DEPARTMENT

THE DESIGN DEPARTMENTS

fotograf Mattias Bardå Their photo studio is about as big as two of our floors combined and is filled from floor to ceiling in clothes, accessories, decor and beauty products. They need to take stills of every item and every colour that will be in stores (keep in mind they get new stock daily so it looks like a logistical nightmare!). They also shoot with models and the light they use on these models is called “H&M light” They recently softened it a bit to be more relatable.

2015-09-22 14.09.53-1 Both the men’s and woman’s design departments have vintage archives where designers can go for reference.

THE STUDIOS

They have SIX people who just steam clothes every day. SIX!!! They even steam and iron bra straps before they shoot it! It’s amazing and inspiring to see how much effort they all put into each little detail! One of their stylists

fotograf Mattias Bardå They have SIX people who just steam clothes every day. SIX!!! They even steam and iron bra straps before they shoot it! It’s amazing and inspiring to see how much effort they all put into each little detail!

This sign is up at every department entrance. It basically says: 1.Continue the good TEAM SPIRIT. Be indulging, acknowledge, trust and respect each other.2.Challenge each other to be CREATIVE and think OUTSIDE THE BOX. Dare to be wrong! 3.Believe in our ideas. Feel ownership & involvement. This sign is  at every department entrance. It says: 1.Continue the good TEAM SPIRIT. Be indulging, acknowledge, trust and respect each other. 2.Challenge each other to be CREATIVE and think OUTSIDE THE BOX. Dare to be wrong! 3. Believe in our ideas. Feel ownership & involvement.

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