Abstract: From Fast Fashion to Luxury in the Fashion Business: The History of the H&M Designer Collections, 2004-2013
The Swedish retail chain H&M, today present in fifty-three countries worldwide, is one of the key players in the creation of an accessible fashion for an international clientele, and is thus also one of the largest players in the global market. In 2004, when H&M, after nearly sixty years of operation, began its first design collaboration with world-renowned fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in Paris, this immediately attracted major interest. Lagerfeld created the first ''Luxury Designer Collection'' for H&M. This was followed by a dozen other designer collaborations with top names in the international fashion scene in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan. This paper examines how and why a world-renowned clothing brand, well-known for its fashion status, but also for its low price point and ''Fast Fashion'' reputation, decided to cooperate with top international designers of a different category and in a completely different price range. What was the goal and purpose behind these collaborations? What was the background to the decision and what was it hoped to achieve? How were the designer names who collaborated with H&M chosen? The paper also explores how connections between ''High'' and ''Low'' fashion are creating new constellations and at the same time allowing companies with very different business models to take advantage of new collaborations.