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A Hit, & Mission To Complete

At 01:30 AM two unidentified men arrived at the scene. Within the next six hours, hundreds of casually dressed civilians had descended upon the same scene, hurrying along Powell Street and around a dark corner. By 09:59 AM security guards braced themselves for the imminent attack -- H&M was about to open its doors.

Over a month after its grand opening, Hennes & Mauritz continues to attract a mob filled with serious shoppers waiting in line like kids trying to get inside a raging nightclub. The serious and the curious all find their way to the latest Swedish chain sensation, which finally heeded its diehard fans' plea to "Go West!" Although the H&M hype has somewhat subsided, stockists who try to re-hang items left in the dressing rooms, still warily walk past shoppers ready to pounce on unclaimed sizes.

The veteran H&M trooper knows that new arrivals appear on Tuesdays. The seasoned H&M trooper also knows that many of the pieces do not last on the floor. The pieces that I collected in Week 1 are nowhere to be found now. Thus when you find something, take it and run with it.

There is a constant flow of new fall arrivals which include both men's and women's fashions. The winter collection features three major directions. One direction is the opulent Baroque and Rococo theme, which is by far the most theatric of all the trends. Black and white tiered skirts ($39.90), pearl chain mails ($29.90), and yellow brocade coats ($129.90) are all quite befitting for a modern day Napoleon's court. Ah mon cheri, keep cool with the white feather fans ($6.90)!

For the not so embellished look, take a walk down the rustic pathway, which is lined with embroidered prairie skirts ($39.90), flannel shirts ($29.90), and colorful patterned sweaters ($39.90). The collection captures a casual and playful aura that is evident in many of the pieces such as the pom pom sweaters ($59.90).

The Swedes are also experts in minimalism. Thus it's not surprising that H&M also feature simple pieces with classic tailoring in very chic styles. Sheer halters with tuxedo backs, black jersey shrugs, white wrap blouses and grey turtlenecks abound for women. The men's collection offers plenty of pinstripe suits, black techno dress shirts and slim fitting blazers with dandy colored ties.

Best of all H&M not only sets its own trends but also invites elite and renowned designers to create exclusive looks for its sophisticated and price-conscious shopper. The tradition began last year with legendary Karl Lagerfeld, who created haute looks for cool prices. This year Stella McCartney brought her signature style of tailored suits and silky tulip dresses. The collection was sold out in days but you may still be able to find her pieces on eBay.

H&M is no doubt a successful clothing chain that markets countless looks to everyone worldwide, but its shoppers eventually fall victim to the same ailing syndrome that all chain store-goers suffer. That syndrome is looking like an H&M drone. Not too long ago when I was in line, I overheard a guy lamenting to his girlfriend, "Everyone's going to be wearing the same thing!"

"Yes," she contemplated and then beamed, "but it's WHO wears it BEST!"

That's the real mission behind H&M -- make it a hit and wear it like nobody else can.