The newest retail brand from H&M Group is fighting fast fashion, reshaping the shop, and embracing the future with its hybrid concept and focus on innovating the basics.
ARKET launched in August 2017 with its flagship store in London, at the same time opening its digital doors to eighteen markets online. The newest arm of H&M Group, ARKET pitches itself as a modern day market offering essential, everyday products for men, women, children and the home that are timeless, well-made and designed to last.
In an age of fast fashion and cheap disposability – an age, ironically, many associate with H&M itself – the collection’s focus on classic staples that are durable and sustainable is a brave breath of fresh air. But, as you’d expect from the company behind COS, & Other Stories, and WEEKDAY, it didn’t come from nowhere. They saw a small but growing trend (or “backlash”) among consumers that opened a gap in the market – and they stepped into it.
Already, ARKET now has stores in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, and these, too, have been designed with a thoughtful eye on the future. Creative Director Ulrika Berhardtz sees that the role of the physical store has changed, that “along with the digital store, it now becomes one component of a larger whole.” It has to offer something more; it has to create experiences and evoke emotions (something we’ve discussed in the past with Knot Watch and Koé Hotel). Each ARKET shop-front strives to be a stress-free, spacious environment where customers want to spend time. Hence the in-house cafe in every store, offering healthy, Nordic food. This hybrid concept blurs the lines between food, beverage and retail, while creating a welcoming atmosphere and expressing the values of the brand in an entirely unique way.
ARKET has also developed a simple but clever curation system called the ARKET ID. Each item has a unique numerical code denoting the gender, department, product and material, helping customers to « find the same style in different materials or that material in different styles » from season to season, online or in store. This brand not only accept the new reality of omni-platform shopping, it embraces it, and makes it seamless.
Essential to this concept, of course, is an equally seamless online experience, and the branding team worked in constant dialogue with the collection teams for over two years before launch. From the clean UX to the bespoke ARKET Sans font to the ID Archive, they have created something that is organic with the overall spine of the brand.
This is an expertly executed concept. It rides the wave of a growing trend, for permanence, that reaches beyond fashion. It has a strong ethos and embraces modern retail trends innovatively. And at Creative Supply we believe it has a very good chance of becoming H&M Group’s most successful brand since COS.
Photo credit: © Arket official