People queued up yesterday morning for the chance to shop at the new King Street H&M, a massive store that opened in the old Kress building like it was the debut of the newest Lebron’s — although with more double-caps than double cuffs in the backseat of a squad car.

The celebrated Swedish retailer is a leading international clothing manufacturer with more than 3,000 stores around the world. It’s basically a Nordic version of the Gap, specializing in pushing cheap facsimiles of the day’s latest hip-new designs. 

And people are eating this shit up.

I have been into an H&M once on a trip to New York. The store was messy, huge, and full of on-trend body tchotchkes. For a second, I thought I was at the Ladson Flea Market. I tried to browse the racks, but I felt overwhelmed by the jumbled merchandising and sheer volume of the place. I escaped to find respite in the 100-degree swelter of the streets of Midtown. The retched garbage smell was preferable to the chaos inside. 

Watch this SNL video for some insight into the shopping experience:

Yesterday, H&M held a pre-opening media breakfast. Some TV media folks who attended stuck around for a private shopping experience, bragging about their pre-opening access via Twitter. The ethical implications of this situation were pointed out by Andy Paras over at the Post & Courier, eventually getting picked up by Jim Romenesko’s media blog. I’m glad I skipped the party because who knows, I may have succumbed to H&M mania. But I kind of don’t think so. Cheap clothes don’t excite me. But a spread of fried chicken and biscuits? Now, you’re talking my language. 

In the end, H&M will be just like all the other chain store behemoths, a victim of their own trendiness. After a huge, hyped expansion, they’ll be forced to downsize and close shops. And the frugal fashionistas will be on to the next exciting store opening.


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