By Nadia Pearl
Katie Eleneke / The Collegian
Popular “fast fashion” retailer H&M is set to open its doors at its Riverpark location in Northwest Fresno in September. Construction is ongoing.
The stylish will rejoice come fall when H&M opens its doors in Riverpark, a sign of Fresno’s fashion market growth.
Taking up the former Borders space, the 25,000-square-foot store will offer clothing and accessories for women, men and children. The store is scheduled to open in September, said Riverpark representative Tracy Kashian – a retailer she thinks will add something fresh to the shopping district.
“To have something new to come to Fresno is always exciting,” Kashian said.
A worldwide brand, H&M originates from Sweden and has 3,100 stores spread across 53 different countries.
Kashian said H&M representatives had been considering the idea of opening another store in the Central Valley for some time, in addition to their store in Modesto. After visiting Riverpark, she said, “they loved the space.”
Dr. Lizhu Davis, assistant professor in fashion merchandising, said the opening shows the increased demand from Fresno consumers to have more fashionable choices.
“If H&M decide it’s time to open a store in Fresno, you know they definitely have to do their homework to figure out – yes, there is a big market here that can sustain the business,” Davis said.
“It definitely says a lot about the consumers we have here in Fresno,” she said. “We do have a lot of young people that have a craving for fashion.”
H&M is considered a “fast fashion” retailer, taking trends from the runway quickly and selling them at reasonable prices to consumers. Usually compared to Forever 21, Davis said the introduction of H&M would create competition that benefits consumers.
“It will definitely bring in some competition, but competition is always good,” Davis said. “Otherwise, we don’t have the strongest market of varieties.”
She said while Forever 21 is also “fast fashion,” their apparel is cheaper, of lesser quality and generally geared towards only young consumers. H&M, on the other hand, may be more expensive, but in Davis’ opinion, increased quality and “focus on different market sections” makes up for the expense.
Davis believes H&M will be unique in the Fresno market because it focuses on “career women” fashion, attracting both young and older consumers who are into their 30s.
“When you go to a new market, you can’t just bring in whatever assortment you have,” Davis said. “You have to do the whole market research and figure out who are your target consumers and what their lifestyle is.
Cydney Curtis, a senior fashion merchandising major, believes Riverpark is an ideal place to put the new H&M due to it’s proximity to other popular clothing stores such as Stella, Macy’s and Tilly’s.
Curtis said she travels to San Francisco regularly to shop and usually visits H&M. She said the prospect of having H&M finally come to Fresno is “really exciting” due to its specific marketing toward consumers older than teenagers, different from Forever 21.
“I feel like H&M is more teenager to young adult,” Curtis said. “They offer more and they’re more organized.”
Beyond style preference, Curtis also said due to her in-depth study of fashion merchandising, she’s aware of industry standards, such as clothing quality and the treatment of employees. In light of this, she said between the two competitors H&M deserves more “respect” than Forever 21.