H&M Studio S/S 2017: Exclusive interview

Read the first part of the H&M story here.

Pernilla Wohlfahrt:

Love, optimism and positivity – these are the key words of the newest H&M Studio collection for women. Why did you feel it was important to send such a message? Does it have anything to do with some kind of anxiety our world is dealing right now?

For the S/S 2017 Studio collection, we want to send out a global message of love, quite literally. There are a few pieces that carry the word again and again, kind of like a ticker tape or a constant reminder of what is important. It feels like now, more than ever, we all need positive feelings and thoughts in our lives. To not only feel loved, but give love in return, too. And, of course, it’s also a celebration of our love of fashion – it’s at the heart of everything we do.

What references to sport can we find in this collection? Why do you think this trend stays so relevant, season after season?

The H&M Studio collection is planned well in advance and based on extensive research by our dedicated team of in-house designers. We found that sportswear continues to be one of the strongest influences in fashion, probably because it’s ideal to combine with a variety of contrasting trends, such as our story of ballet for this season. It is also a very comfortable and relaxed trend, which we believe appeal to a lot of people. We were very much drawn to the strength, grace and passion of ballet, and the feminine details such as romantic ruffles or pin-tucks are instantly brought up-to-date with sporty touches like drawstrings at the neck, waist and hem or elastic waistbands. There are also pieces such as re-worked anoraks, running shorts and trekking sandals.

Many designers evoke the notion of modernity while describing their works – sometimes it even seems the word has lost its meaning. What does “modern” in fashion mean precisely for you?

I think the word “modern” in fashion means being a reflection of the current times, whether that is socially, culturally or even emotionally. In a funny way, it’s both looking at the past and into the future to come to the present.

There are many discussions about what women of nowadays look like. They’re strong, independent, successful, brave, beautiful… What woman do you have in mind while creating?

Inspirations vary season to season, especially as we always design with our customers in mind and they are very engaged in the fashion world, so it’s often more about a story we want to tell rather than a specific woman. For example, this season’s message of love – with that, we like to think that our woman exudes a combination of strength, gentleness and open-mindedness. She’s self-confident and dedicated, and of course, loves fashion, mainly for its ability to express personal style.

This collection is presented in a see now-buy now format. What do you think this step means for such a fashion giant as H&M?

We have been monitoring this new era for the industry carefully over the past few years. It’s very exciting and the format feels natural to us. It enables us to come even closer to our customer and open up for a broader audience. Closing the gap between the retail calendar and runway calendar by making the H&M Studio collection available straight from the runway will hopefully be appreciated by our customers and we value the direct communication we can have with our customers through a “see now, buy now” runway show. I think anything that brings us closer to our customers and makes fashion even more accessible is very positive and we look forward to testing it out.

PRESS_IMAGE_Andreas-2Andreas Löwenstam:

H&M Studio newest collection for men is all about contrasts. Could you tell more about ideas behind the new designs?

For the S/S 2017 Studio Collection, we were inspired by the contradictions within sports and movement – the strength, precision and elegance, the traditional and the modern. Sheer layers are contrasted with wool or leather, body-hugging knits worn with roomy trousers, graphic black and white punctuated by bright fuchsia. The overall aesthetic is clean and fluid, with classic menswear pieces reborn in lighter wools, nylon and sheer silk, alongside sporty touches such as lacing and drawstrings. The man we had in mind for this collection is, of course, fashion-conscious, but ultimately, he doesn’t want to compromise on comfort or style.

What role, in your opinion, fashion can play in shattering usual gender stereotypes? And more importantly, do you see any really important changes? It seems that you’re also venturing this way, as you evoke the importance of “sensitivity” in this collection, which isn’t the most traditional way to talk about men’s clothes…

I believe fashion can play a big role in shattering traditional gender stereotypes. It’s interesting because in some ways, the basic modern wardrobe has always been genderless – jeans, t-shirts, shirts, blazers, etc. are worn by both men and women – but I welcome all borrowing between what is seen as traditionally “womenswear” and “menswear”. It can only make fashion more interesting and inspiring to the world at large.Today, the male customer has become quite sensitive and brave, but we find that he definitely does not want to compromise on either comfort or style. That is one of the reasons why men are already embarking on a new kind of dress code where they wear suit trousers with trainers and a cashmere jumper, where a long tunic shirt over trousers can look absolutely stunning and stylish. I see this behaviour only getting stronger.

This time collections for men and women are merged and presented together. How do you think this is beneficial for buyers and designers? Do you believe that in future we won’t have distinct fashion weeks for women and men anymore?

In the fashion industry at large – and all around the world on the street – womenswear and menswear already overlap in trends and inspirations, so sharing a runway feels natural. From a design point of view, at H&M we have one large in-house design team that freely shares inspiration with each other so there is even now a lot of cross-pollination of ideas. For the Studio collection, it’s one core dedicated team further divided into womenswear and menswear. And for S/S 2017, they shared the same overall inspiration for the collections. Merging menswear and womenswear in the same fashion show, and indeed the whole “see now, buy now” approach could represent the future. We look forward to testing this approach at our S/S 2017 show.

Where did you look for inspirations?

I travel frequently for work and pleasure, so that’s always a great opportunity to see what people are wearing all around the world. I tend to focus on how different people are putting certain and often the same kind of pieces together – it’s fascinating. Social media, of course, is another great source of inspiration, from the curated accounts that feature only vintage fashion editorials to the latest influencer. But I am also a great lover of music. You can get so much energy from listening to melodies, rhythms and lyrics, so I was also quite happy to collaborate with The Weeknd recently on our “Spring Icons” campaign, for example.

This collection is presented in a see now-buy now format. What do you think this step means for such a fashion giant as H&M?

We view the “see now, buy now” aspect as an opportunity to have direct communication with our customers, which can have a positive impact. The runway show that accompanies “see now, buy now”, previously an industry-only event, is also a great opportunity to engage with customers. Fashion has become truly global now, which is so exciting, but the way it’s also become more inclusive is a positive step forward. As a company, our aim has always been to provide our customers around the world with clothes, shoes and accessories that they will genuinely love and continually wear. Pieces that can effortlessly be mixed with their existing wardrobe and feel like a part of them. Pieces that they feel truly express their personal style and love of fashion.

Lithuanian readers can find this interview in April’s issue of L’Officiel Lithuania

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