A look into the history of the insanely popular international fashion brand.
In the year of 1946 the 30-year-old Swedish entrepreneur Erling Persson goes on a road trip through the USA. In New York, the idea of selling women’s fashion in a new way is born.
The following year, 1947, Persson opens a new womenswear store in Västerås, Sweden. He calls it Hennes, Swedish for “Hers”.
The soon-to-be-famous Hennes logotype is designed by the founder himself. A first store in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, opens in 1952. When a second Stockholm store opens in 1954, the popularity is already at fever pitch.
That same year, Hennes takes out a full-page colour ad in Sweden’s largest daily; a pioneering belief in the power of marketing.
The 1950s closes with the opening of a flagship store in the first of five skyscrapers built in the Hötorget area in central Stockholm.
In 1968, Hennes acquires the Stockholm-based hunting apparel and fishing equipment retailer Mauritz Widforss, and the name is changed to Hennes & Mauritz. This is the start of offering of men's and also children's clothing, leading to H&M offering clothes for the entire family.
The expansion is rapid: by 1969, Hennes & Mauritz has 42 stores. During these decades, the international growth begins. Norway comes first, followed by Denmark, U.K., and Switzerland.
In 1973, Hennes & Mauritz starts selling underwear. The same year, ABBA-member Anni-Frid Lyngstad becomes the first "supermodel" to be photographed for the company, wearing make-up from the new cosmetics range.
The growth pace increases even further, with five or six new stores opening every year.
In 1974, Hennes & Mauritz is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. The same year, the stores are rebranded with the abbreviation “H&M”.
In the late 1970s, modern teenagers get their own version of H&M as the Impuls concept is launched, inspired by U.S. denim stores.
In the 1980s, the foundation is laid for the upcoming global expansion. New openings include the first H&M stores in Germany and Netherlands.
Long before the term e-commerce was even born, sale of H&M fashion move into the customer's homes through the acquisition of Swedish mail order company Rowells in 1980.
In 1982 – 35 years after the start in Västerås, Sweden, the company gets its second-ever CEO, as Erling Persson steps aside to make room for his son, Stefan Persson.
In the 1990s, traditional newspaper advertising is largely replaced by large city billboards. The choice of models signals that H&M has become a truly international brand. Super models are used next to famous actors and artists wearing H&M clothes. The fashion speaks for itself.
The famous annual Christmas underwear campaigns are launched in 1990, featuring super model Elle Macpherson. The campaigns gain a lot of media attention.
Throughout the 1990s, models from “The Big Six” – Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista – are used in H&M’s campaigns.
In 1998, H&M starts offering online shopping. The first online market is Sweden.
The expansion of H&M in Europe continues. By the end of the decade there are H&M stores in several European countries including France, where the first H&M store opens 1998 in Paris.
In 2000, a major H&M flagship store opens on Fifth Avenue in New York. The opening of the first store in the U.S. marks the start of the expansion outside Europe.
H&M and Karl Lagerfeld take the world of fashion by surprise in 2004, teaming up to show that design isn't a question of price.
Since this first designer collaboration fashion giants like Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Alexander Wang and Stella McCartney have been invited to make their design accessible to fashion fans globally.
The expansion of online sales continues, initially to European countries.
H&M goes far east, opening the first stores in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2007.
2007, marking 60 years after the first Hennes store opened, COS is born. The honour of hosting the first store goes to London, UK.
Weekday, Monki, and Cheap Monday are welcomed to the H&M group through the purchase of FaBric Scandinavien AB.
Home styling becomes more fun thanks to the launch of H&M Home in 2009.
In 2000 Rolf Eriksen is appointed CEO. Karl-Johan Persson takes over as CEO in 2009.
In 2010, H&M for the first time launches a full fashion collection made from sustainable materials.
The H&M Incentive Program for all H&M group employees is launched in 2011.
Garment collecting is introduced worldwide in 2013. Since the start, about 34,000 tons of old textiles have been brought by customers into the H&M stores for reuse and recycling. Long live fashion!
Yet another member is added to the H&M family: & Other Stories. An independent brand created within the H&M group, with design studios in Paris and Stockholm. Launch: 2013.
The rapid expansion continues: there are now H&M stores in Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Australia.
In 2014, the new H&M Sport is launched with fashionable sportswear in functional fabrics for the entire family. The same year, H&M’s shoe concept is extended and updated.
H&M Beauty is on everybody's lips, as a full range of specially designed makeup, body care and hair styling products enters the scene in 2015.
H&M switches to renewable electricity in all stores, offices and distribution centres in all markets where it's criteria for renewable electricity are considered met.
To accelerate the development of bold and disruptive ideas that can help close the loop for fashion, The Global Change Award is launched in 2015 by the H&M Foundation. The Global Change Award is a challenge designed to spur early innovations that can accelerate the shift from a linear to a circular fashion industry, with the aim of protecting the planet and our living conditions.