Abstract: H&M—Documenting the Story of the World's Largest Fashion Retailer

Ingrid Giertz-Mårtenson


This paper will be based on a project recently started in Sweden. The Centre for Business History, an independent Swedish organization, working in the area of corporate and industrial history in all forms, was recently commissioned by the fashion retail chain H&M to document the history of the company. It began with the opening of a small shop in a country town in Sweden in 1947. Today, H&M is the world's largest fashion retail chain with some 1,750 stores worldwide. The paper will discuss the methods used in this kind of documentation. Apart from saving and collecting business documents, photos, ads, etc, finding examples of design from the past sixty years seems crucial. Here, fashion's interest in constant and rapid change becomes an issue. When the page is turned for a new season, nothing seems to be as "out" as what was "in" just a few months before. Oral history interviews with former and present employees will therefore be a major part in projects like this, raising questions important to scholars doing contemporary business history. What perspectives should be considered in posing questions? Who should be chosen as subjects? And, as it is impossible to document all kinds of knowledge, where should the emphasis be?