PARIS — Adding to the ever-growing list of retail schemes to pull consumers away from their smartphones and into stores, Hennes & Mauritz is bringing sewing machines into the heart of its newly refurbished Paris flagship.
Clothing repair — along with customized embroidery, natural detergents and patches — is being offered in a lounge area of the top floor of the store.
The space sits under a glass roof with a wall of vegetation towering above. A clothing recycling station sits nearby.
“It’s not just about making fashion sustainable but also to make sustainable fashionable, to make it attractive and desirable to engage customers around it,” said Anna Gedda, head of sustainability for H&M. The executive said research with focus groups in Sweden turned up the point that some people didn’t feel cool hauling around bags of old clothing.
“It just doesn’t seem stylish,” she recalled hearing from potential consumers.
H&M tested its new “take care” idea at a temporary setup in Germany in April, and the Rue Lafayette address in Paris is its first permanent home. The section also sells sewing kits and laundry bags designed to keep plastic residues from entering water systems.
The Swedish retailer is undergoing a broad overhaul, rethinking its store formats and investing heavily on the digital front after losing ground to nimbler competitors. A store nearby, on Boulevard Haussmann, is being closed.
The newly refurbished store, which opens Wednesday morning, is adjacent to the Galeries Lafayette department store and stretches over more than 50,000 square feet and six floors, including two floors for children’s apparel. H&M Home covers 4,000 square feet, including bed and table displays.
On the ground floor, visitors are greeted with a new collection of Paris-inspired clothing, sold exclusively in the store and online. Infused with blue, white and red, items range from a polka-dotted scarf for 14.99 euros to trench coats and striped T-shirts.
Pernilla Wohlfahrt, design director at the company, noted that attention to environmental issues is key to appealing to younger generations.
“Saying that with the denims you bought last season, this is how you style them in a new way so you don’t always have to change everything — you can add little things to your wardrobe but keep the old things but then use it in a new way to feel new — we like to express ourselves with how we dress. Keep that jacket but let’s have a new scarf,” she said.
“This is something that young people expect us to do. Maybe they don’t want to have it in their face, but they expect us to do it, and we feel the responsibility to do it, there’s no way around it, we have to,” Wohlfahrt added.