Fall Colors (+ What’s Wrong with H&M?!)

Big changes are afoot at H&M–from a new size chart (which essentially requires you to order one size smaller than before: someone who used to wear a size 6 would now wear a size 4) to a new website and mobile app to high levels of store closures–it’s too early to tell if these adjustments came (too little and) too late for H&M, which had for years resisted adapting to the changing retail environment, and instead relied on its size to mask its growing irrelevance, squandering its market leader position.

As H&M dawdled, its customers moved on, to DTC brands that deliver an experience, to e-tailers with accessible websites, to other fast fashion brands that managed to beat H&M at its own game (i.e., superior supply chain).

For someone like me, who used to shop H&M enthusiastically and often, none of the changes that H&M has implemented feels meaningful: Its merchandising remains poor, making stores feel inaccessible and unwieldy to navigate; Its web design mirrors that of retailers with much less inventory and fewer SKUs, and is not conducive to aimless browsing; and its styling is uninspired, for the world’s second largest fashion retailer.

Speaking just for myself, to get me to shop regularly again, H&M needs to either pare down its offering significantly, or dramatically reimagine how it groups its products, because 6880 (the number of results shown for women’s products) is an overwhelming number of things to sift through, and the seven “concepts” and fifteen “campaigns” do not adequately address the decision fatigue that H&M customers will experience when they arrive on the site.

H&M’s branding and marketing team also needs to put some effort into naming its products. I can appreciate the clarity and simplicity of a name like “cotton t-shirt,” but when a shopper searches “cotton t-shirt” on your website and 1075 results are returned, something is amiss. This nomenclature may work for scrappy startups like Everlane, which has a much much smaller offering, but I don’t see how it can be feasible for a behemoth like H&M.

Quay Australia My Girl 50mm Cat Eye Sunglasses in Tortoiseshell/Brown (more Quay sunglasses here) || H&M Satin Camisole with Lace (size 2) || J. Crew Schoolboy Blazer in Italian Wool Flannel (past season; size 00p) || Ann Taylor Tie Waist Midi Wrap Skirt (size 0) || Prada Saffiano Lux Double-Zip Tote (reviewed here) || Ann Taylor Mila Pumps

The fall of H&M is heartbreaking, because many of their designs are both well conceived and well-made, like the Satin Camisole with Lace (now sold out in all sizes) worn in this post that I shared when it went on sale several months ago. But were it not for the fact that I was doing a related search for satin camisoles one fateful day, I may never have discovered this gem. And shoppers shouldn’t need luck on their side to find things that they like (and may eventually buy); the onus is on the retailer to find a way to put that thing in front of them.

If you too love H&M but can’t shop there anymore because it’s overwhelming, here are some items that I have ordered or currently have in my cart:

Hi, I am Elle!

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