Blog: Leonie BarrieIs cheap chic dead?

Leonie Barrie | 20 March 2007

Are we on the verge of backlash against cheap, disposable, fast fashions? The opening of H&M’s new COS - Collection of Style - chain on London's Regent Street on Friday has opened up a great debate on the return of classic clothing and the need for simple, well-cut and often slightly more expensive basics that seems to have been forgotten in the rush to fill stores with new ‘must-have’ items week after week. The format is also bucking new sourcing patterns, with just 30% of the COS range being sourced in south east Asia, against 60% for the main H&M line.

The market for “designer quality at high street prices” certainly isn’t a new one, but H&M seems to have identified enough of a gap to not only have jumped in but also be planning the roll-out of another 10 COS shops this year. Collections include tailored coats and trousers, pencil skirts and classic shirts quality fabrics that are destined to last for several seasons but at prices that won’t break the bank. Fortunately, too, this strategy is a world away from the cheap chic on which H&M has made its name, and offers the chain important leverage in a market where it’s namesake format is nearing saturation.

Inditex, the owner of Zara and Europe's biggest clothing chain, already has its own sub-brands including Massimo Dutti, Bershka and Zara Home – which have met with a mixed reception in the UK. So it’ll be interesting to see how the new chain fares – and whether or not other retailers decide to jump on the bandwagon. What do you think?


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