Ford is “a very interesting name,” H&M’s creative adviser Margareta van den Bosch said by telephone from Stockholm when asked about the possibility of a collaboration with the 50-year- old designer. “I can say, I wouldn’t mind.”
The Stockholm-based retailer, whose Versace for H&M line goes on sale this week, may work with Ford, website FrenchTribune.com has previously reported. Van den Bosch said there has been no contact with the designer, while a spokeswoman for Tom Ford declined to comment.
The Versace for H&M line will be H&M’s eighth with a designer since it started selling clothing by Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld at a fraction of the usual cost in November 2004. The collections can sell out immediately and H&M never has difficulty selling them, said Van den Bosch.
Ford rejuvenated the Gucci brand in the 1990s and left in 2004 to form his own fashion line, Tom Ford International. The designer also turned his hand to filmmaking in 2009 with “A Single Man” with actor Colin Firth.
“There would be great customer interest in such a collection,” said Anne Critchlow, a London-based analyst at Societe Generale. Being involved with well-known designers confers “fashion authority” on the H&M brand, she said.
H&M, which will start selling underwear designed by soccer player David Beckham in February, is seeking to attract shoppers to boost sales and reverse falling profit. The retailer doesn’t disclose how much it generates from the designer collaborations, or how much the partnerships cost.
Designer brands tend to be stronger in countries where they are most widely recognized, Van den Bosch said. Sonia Rykiel was most popular in France, Lagerfeld got the biggest acclaim in Germany, and Stella McCartney won the most plaudits in England, she said.
Other retailers have followed suit, including Target Corp., whose website crashed earlier this year amid overwhelming demand for a line by Italian knitwear company Missoni SpA.
“This will bring something different to our customers,” Van den Bosch said of the Versace collection, which includes $249 metal mesh dress and $149 pink blazers for men. “People are curious and they want to look at this.”
The collection goes on sale at about 300 stores and online in select countries from Nov. 17. Versace, based in Milan, has also designed a pre-spring line for the retailer that will be available in regions where H&M distributes online from Jan. 19.
The Versace for H&M line will give the Italian label “global visibility,” Versace Chief Executive Officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris said in an interview this month.
H&M, which competes with Zara owner Inditex SA (ITX), said today that sales at stores open at least a year fell 2 percent in October, matching estimates in a poll by SME Direkt. That’s the fifth straight month that sales have fallen or been unchanged.
H&M shares gained as much as 2.4 percent and were up 2.1 percent at 207 kronor as of 9:20 a.m.
The Swedish retailer, which sells dresses for less than $10, wants to keep the designer collaborations as a limited edition to keep an “exclusive feeling,” said Van den Bosch. “We want a mix of fashion with fashion basics.”
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