Champagne flowing for H&M in Japan

November 16th, 2009 by Felicity Hughes

Jimmy Choo bags at H&M

Jimmy Choo bags at H&M

While designer brands such as Versace have been taking a hit of late in Japan, this doesn’t seem to be the case for mainstream names that deliver fashion at affordable prices such as Uniqlo, Forever 21 and Top Shop. Friday saw the opening party for the new H&M store in Shinjuku, and the company showed its confidence in the brand by passing out free champagne to all event attendees.

Though shoppers are downsizing, Japan’s love of designer names continues unabated, and customers are finding that they no longer need to go to up-market areas like Ginza to get their hit of luxury fashion. H&M, for instance, have enlisted the talents of shoe and handbag designer Jimmy Choo, whose name has long been synonymous with high end, exclusively priced fashion, to lure Japanese shoppers to their store. At ¥29,990 for a bag, Choo’s range hasn’t exactly dropped to rock-bottom prices, but it is more suited to the wallets of the nouveau not-so-rich.

Taking ribbons to an extreme

Ribbons taken to an extreme

The fact that top designers are willing go for profits at the lower end of the market indicates that perhaps business isn’t really booming up at the high end of the market. Gianni Versace S.p.A. announced last month that they were withdrawing their name from Japanese high streets, and Choo isn’t the first designer to economize his range. He’s following in the footsteps of Stella McCartney and Jasper Conran who have both cashed in their cachet for a quick buck in off-the-peg sales.

As well as enticing customers with their Jimmy Choo range, H&M showed that it could adapt its brand well to Japanese trends with a collection that seemed to almost always be topped off with a cute ribbon — huge bows were everywhere, especially in headbands.

Hello Kitty was also in full effect, both in the kids collection and the adults section, demonstrating that even at the ripe old age of 35, Kitty-chan is still going strong. While the range was definitely kawaii, it was still grown up and nicely tailored.

The Jimmy Choo range was limited edition and items went on sale to the public Saturday, selling out within the hour at the Harajuku branch.

More pics of the H&M Shinjuku opening.

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