By  on February 14, 2007

LONDON — Hennes & Mauritz is growing up.

The Swedish company that's become synonymous with low-priced fast fashion is moving upmarket with COS — a men's and women's clothing and accessories collection that's meant to last longer than a season.

COS will make its debut on March 16 when the first global flagship opens at 222 Regent Street here, in a building formerly occupied by the department store Liberty.

Six more stores — in The Hague; in Brussels, and in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart in Germany — will open on March 30. Each store will span about 4,860 square feet.

Although the company declined to reveal further rollout plans, a spokeswoman said: "We believe in COS, and we think it will work well in all the markets where H&M operates. But for now, we're focusing on the U.K. and Europe."

COS prices will be double those at H&M, and will range from 19 euros, or $25 at current exchange, for a jersey top to 39 euros, or $50, for a jersey dress to 229 euros, or $298, for a leather jacket with cropped sleeves.

"We all felt there was a gap in the market between high street and high fashion, and we see COS as a great challenge," said Rebekka Bay, design director for women's wear, in an exclusive interview with fellow Dane, Michael Kristensen, design director for men's wear.

"There seems to be a changing mood in fashion. I think we all feel annoyed paying so much for designer names. On the other hand, the high street is delivering great fast fashion at low prices, but I cry when something I buy wears out. We're trying to create that sweet spot in between," she added.

COS stands for "Collection of Style," which was originally the working title for the new line. Kristensen said the team finally decided to keep it because it was short, easy to pronounce in a variety of languages and approachable.

Bay, who, before joining COS, worked in trend forecasting and lifestyle brand consulting, and Kristensen, who has worked for German brands including Hugo Boss, Marc O'Polo and Tom Tailor, said the COS collection is driven by quality and style.

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