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After a long and hotly anticipated arrival, Sweden's multinational fashion retailer H&M arrived in Brisbane to much fanfare in March. Just two months after their first Queensland store at Indooroopilly opened, the retailer has quietly opened their next fourth Australian store and second in Brisbane in the newly renovated wing of Westfield Garden City.
If you've been to the Indooroopilly store you'll know the 2500 square metre space packs in rows upon rows of clothes for men, women and kids. The logical layout of Garden City store however spans two floors, and makes navigating between different departments a lot more simple. Each floor in the Garden City store offers a multi cashier counter along the rear wall and a separate entrance. The men's and kids clothing departments are located on the ground floor and women's fashion on the upper level.
When it comes to clothes, H&M is a very welcome arrival for the sheer variety and the value-for-money prices they offer. Available in store is a bit of everything. Fans of tennis and sport clothes can check out Swedish tennis player Tomas Berdych's line of active wear, so you can look the goods on the court. A global brand like H&M has also managed to get other celebrity endorsements including the likes of David Beckham, promoting his Bodywear™ underwear and loungewear range in a much publicised recent campaign, in addition to his Modern Essentials™ range of tees, jackets, shirts and coats due in Spring.
Whether you care about what Becks is wearing or not, one of the best things about H&M is the ability to get a new fashion forward that hits the right style notes for under $100. I was in dire need of some 'winter' clothes and also on a budget. I would normally say good luck being able to get a whole new outfit for around the hundred mark, but in just over half an hour (I like to my clothes shopping over and done with as quickly as possible) I had snapped up a pair of tan chinos ($29.95,) a maroon woollen sweater ($39.95) and a navy tee ($14.95). I couldn't resist throwing in a zip up sweatshirt for another $29.95. All up, four garments for just under $115.00. Boo-yah!
There's no doubt about it, with prices as good as these Myer and other clothing retailers are going to be sweating H&Ms inevitable expansion into Australia. With almost everything on offer that has 'the look' this is definitely how you clothes shop on a budget. From belts, boxer shorts, jackets, suits and ties, dresses and playsuits, sleepwear, blouses, knickers, cardigans, slacks and everything else for the taking, the list goes on.
Now for the negatives. Sadly, there none of H&M's homeware range is available in either the Garden City or Indooroopilly store. If you've been to the Melbourne flagship store or browsed on their website you'll understand why H&M home wares are a serious thing and also available seriously good prices. Style wise think some of the style of IKEA's smaller items. From kitchen vases, cushions covers, scented candles, towels, curtains and bedding, there's a huge range of stylish and affordable things for every nook and cranny in your home and definitely worth a look. Fortunately according to the H&M Facebook page their homeware range will be included in their high street Queen Street Mall site when its due to open at the end of the year.
Another drawback about the H&M experience is that they don't offer online shopping in Australia. For all their enthusiastic customers outside of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and for those who can't easily get to their nearest store this is somewhat baffling and unfortunate.
Most of staff I dealt with were friendly enough on my visit, but in my opinion you don't ever get particularly good service in most of the mainstream clothing stores. Put it this way, the disinterested and sometimes superior attitudes are something I've come to almost expect. That said, given the option, I'd rather be left to my own devices to browse than to be constantly asked if "I need any help?"
I've read much online about the quality of H&M's clothes and while I can only comment on the men's fashion, I can't say anything too bad. I'm still wearing a pair of jeans I bought from an H&M outlet Germany in 2010, and in my experience the quality is pretty standard, and at worst mediocre. Don't expect some of the items like t-shirts to keep their shape forever, but at around $15 each can you really complain?
For those living on the south-side and west-side, H&M's two Brisbane stores offer a comprehensive fashion forward shopping experience with great prices. With their massive buying power and more than 900 suppliers worldwide their regularly updated product range brings the fast fashion model to the masses, especially handy for those who love to update their wardrobe on regular basis.
For others like me who just need new gear at a good price, H&M definitely delivers the goods.