The clocks counting down outside the GPO building will by now read less than 24 hours as Melbourne shoppers prepare for one of the city’s biggest retail launches since Zara opened two years ago. Swedish brand H&M, already in 53 countries, has finally set up a concept store in Melbourne and is being welcomed, mostly, with open arms.
The old GPO, once home to small retailers, has been transformed into a single store, 5000 square metres in size, from which H&M will sell its wares. The interior is modern with a hint of its grand history as a Victorian-era post office; with white walls and floors and mirrors as far as the eye can see, and the inclusion of plants to soften the brightness. Two enormous floors of wall-to-wall clothing, cosmetics and homewares are on offer, ensuring Melbourne will have the full H&M range at its fingertips.
With the opening comes a special ‘Australian collection’ which H&M head of design Ann-Sofie Johannson describes as, “Something a little bit bohemian, a little bit rock and roll-ish, not too fancy.”
Although she has tailored a collection specifically for Australia, Johannson still believes in the power of global trends, a driving factor behind H&M’s international success. Although it isn’t a designer label, H&M’s focus is fashion and quality at the best price, which is a model Johannson believes makes H&M so translatable across continents. “It’s a really good business idea and I think we have a wide assortment. We cater for many people and we want to be for everyone, we want to be inclusive, we want everyone to be able to find something at H&M even if they don’t know what they’re looking for.”
With a long list of international brands opening in Australia (Zara, Topshop, Uniqlo, Muji, A.P.C., COS), it is telling of Melbourne’s fashion focus that the flagship stores are being launched here. The hype behind the opening of H&M is indicative of how successful it will be in Australia, which will only encourage more retail development. Not many Australians have had access to H&M, and with a registered list of 7000 for opening day on Saturday all that is about to change.
350 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Trading hours to be confirmed.