H&M & Other Stories: A new chapter for the British high street

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Here comes the latest launch from Swedish giants H&M. Expect everything from skincare to skimpies

For the next big thing on the British high street, the & Other Stories headquarters in Stockholm are surprisingly low-key. Located on a quiet, snowy street in a residential part of the city and permeated with the smell of something delicious cooking for lunch (the team in the atelier all eat together every day), it's a far cry from the vision of ultra-hip Swedish cool we have come to expect from the brands this region keeps sending to invade our shores.

It feels deceptively homely, despite all the fierce-looking, articulated platform shoes, armour-plated bags and sharp silhouttes nestling in the workroom. But then its owner is well-versed in putting us at our ease when it comes to being fashion-forward.

& Other Stories, which launched last week simultaneously in London, Berlin and Copenhagen (how's that for cool company?) and online, is a new concept from the megabrand H&M, which last month dressed Best Supporting Actress nominee Helen Hunt on the Oscars red carpet and presented a collection in the French capital to coincide with the international collections. Which, all in the past few years, has given us COS, Monki and sell-out collaborations with Versace, Marni and Maison Martin Margiela.

It's just another fashionable coup for a company that, seemingly, can do no wrong.

“& Other Stories is about bringing everything a woman can wear into one place,” explains creative director Samuel Fernstrom. “About focusing on the whole look. We believe shoes, bags, accessories, jewellery, lingerie and beauty are key for styling, and just as important as clothing.”

The label began life simply as a beauty brand, practically the only industry pie H&M doesn't yet have a finger in, with international make-up artist Lisa Butler, who has worked alongside Inez and Vinoodh, as well as labels such as Prada and Hemut Lang – as a consulting colour director. In charge of the fragrances is Ben Gorham, the nose at cult Swedish perfumiers Byredo. The beauty range includes skincare and sweet-smelling body lotions, as well as a Pantone-breadth of shades, such as pistachio and midnight blue nail varnish; coral and rose blushes engraved with a quote from Romeo and Juliet, and cobalt metallic eyeshadow. Everything is packaged in clinical white with black lettering, unutterably cool and “something we'd like to have on our shelves,” according to the similarly cool beauty collection manager Frida Fagerholm.

But from the focus on beauty, the label blossomed into an innovative and idiosyncratic lifestyle concept that those working on it are only too excited to unveil. “We felt women shop differently today compared to how they used to,” says Behnaz Aram, head of design, who works out of the Stockholm atelier (some of the team are based in Paris). “They mix and match, and buy high and low. They don't want to pay too much for a hairclip, but they're okay with paying more for things that will stay in their wardrobe. We felt that customers want to be creative today – and that was the idea with the different directions.”

& Other Stories is made up of four carefully considered mini-collections, each one a coherent vision of a specific aesthetic that takes in ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, jewellery and a number of suggested beauty looks. “Contradiction and minimalism” is all swirled marble prints and geometric shapes on strict and severe silhouettes and tailoring, topped off with understated and upmarket accessories. “Industrial and effortless” speaks more of glamorous grunge, in biker jackets, chunky metallic jewellery and sheer-panelled minidresses. “Sophisticated and architectural” combines swoops and drapes of fabric with sporty touches and Art Deco flourishes, while “Poetic and dandy” is something more recognisably hip, slightly preppy, with leanings toward vintage.

“All our lines are diverse,” Samuel Fernstrom continues, “ranging from masculine tailoring to feminine chic and are designed to provide endless styling choices. We aim to design lasting wardrobe treasures, within a wide price, for a woman who wants to wear thing that feel right to her and reflect her personality.”

If it sounds like shopping by numbers, it isn't. The design of each pathway has been carefully considered so that each stands alone – and looks characterful – but will blend easily with another.

It feels modern, reflective of the fact that latterly women don't necessarily fall for every trend that comes their way anymore or, conversely, their tastes fall into different camps on any given day.

While the stable's other prize COS offers a mainly minimalist mid-range take, & Other Stories will provide the brighter and more feminine pieces that other fashion-forward shoppers have been waiting for.

“It felt like customers want to be creative today,” adds Behnaz Aram. “That's the thing about the internet and the whole street style thing. So if we could create a brand that had four different direction, they can mix and match.” The name comes from the nostalgic publishing tradition – there is a copy of Antony Trollope's The Parson's Daughter & Other Stories lying on one of the benches in the airy atelier (it's an exposed brickwork number) and the concept, while strikingly modern in feel, also comes from a certain sort of heritage: that of the couture houses, winning and welcoming customers with fragrances and cosmetics during the late Fifties – perhaps the last time there was such a concerted democratisation of fashion.

The look of & Other Stories is decidedly fashion-forward too. There are bags here that might not look out of place in the Parisian showroom of a hyper-luxe brand and shoes that could have come straight from the workshop of an avant garde stalwart. These are not the sorts of pieces generally available on the high street and for that, shoppers will flock to & Other Stories. The prices reflect the complexity of design – they're a little higher than your average, but shoes at £120 (real leather, well-made) and roomy totes for £145 (same, and same – one particular model was perfected for nearly 18 months by accessories designer Luca La Rocca, formerly an accessories whizzkid at Cerruti) are a snip compared to the next rung on the price ladder for equivalent items.

The design team are also split between Stockholm and Paris, a cunning move that allows the company to cherry-pick from the wealth of designers based in each city, but also to incorporate two of the most popular strands in fashion right now: nonchalant, downbeat Gallic chic and that grungey Scandi edge – both filter through all four of the Other Stories strands.

“It's for women who are interested in fashion and who feel differently every day,” says Aram. “Some days you want a romantic dress, the next day jeans and a T-shirt. That's the same person – it's not that you dress in one style. You feel different and that's what we're trying to reflect.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones