Our founder had a vision. Erling Persson wanted to make great fashion available and affordable to everyone and do this in the right way. From a single store in 1947 we became a family of brands offering fashion and design to customers worldwide. This is our story.
The ’40s and ’50s
Inspired by his trip to New York City the year before, Swedish entrepreneur Erling Persson opens a new womenswear store in Västerås, Sweden. He calls it Hennes, Swedish for “Hers”. The soon-to-be-famous Hennes logotype is designed by the founder himself.
The ’40s and ’50s
The first Hennes store opens in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm.
Hennes takes out a full-page colour ad in Sweden’s largest daily, a pioneering belief in the power of marketing.
The ’60s and ’70s
Hennes acquires the Stockholm-based hunting apparel and fishing equipment retailer Mauritz Widforss, and the name is changed to Hennes & Mauritz. The stores start offering men’s and children’s clothing, covering fashion needs for the entire family.
The expansion is rapid: Hennes & Mauritz has 42 stores.
During these decades, the international growth begins. Norway comes first, followed by Denmark, the UK, and Switzerland.
The growth pace increases even further, with five or six new stores opening every year.
- – Hennes & Mauritz starts selling underwear.
- – ABBA-member Anni-Frid Lyngstad becomes the first “supermodel” to be photographed for the company.
- – Hennes & Mauritz is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
- – The stores are rebranded with the abbreviation “H&M”.
- – Teenagers get their own version of H&M as the Impuls concept is launched, inspired by denim stores in the US.
- – H&M introduces cosmetics into its assortment.
The ’80s and ’90s
In the 1980s, the foundation is laid for the upcoming global expansion. New openings include the first H&M stores in Germany and the Netherlands.
Long before the term “e-commerce” was born, sale of H&M fashion moves into customers’ homes through the acquisition of Rowells, the Swedish mail order company.
The company gets its second ever CEO, as Erling Persson steps aside to make room for his son, Stefan Persson.
The famous annual underwear campaigns are launched featuring supermodel Elle Macpherson, gaining a lot of media attention.
Throughout the 1990s, models from “The Big Six” – Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell – are featured in H&M’s campaigns.
Throughout the 1990s, the European expansion continues with four new markets.
- – H&M starts offering online shopping. The first online market is Sweden.
- – The first H&M store opens in Paris.
The ’00s and ’10s
A major H&M flagship store opens on Fifth Avenue in New York, realising Erling Persson’s dream. The opening of the first store in the US marks the start of the expansion outside Europe.
H&M publishes the first Corporate Social Responsibility Report, marking the beginning of our Sustainability reporting journey.
H&M and Karl Lagerfeld take the world of fashion by surprise, teaming up to show that design isn’t a question of price.
Since this first designer collaboration, H&M has teamed up with fashion giants such as Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, Versace and Alexander Wang, as well as with many A-list celebrities, to make their design accessible to fashion fans globally.
The expansion of online sales continues, initially to European countries.
- – H&M goes Far East, opening the first stores in Shanghai and Hong Kong SAR.
- – Marking 60 years after the first Hennes store opened, our first portfolio brand COS is born. The honour of hosting the first store goes to London.
– Karl-Johan Persson, Erling Persson’s grandson, takes over as CEO.
H&M launches its first collection made entirely out of sustainable materials, with many more sustainable initiatives to follow.
- – H&M enters the high fashion arena with the very first H&M Studio show during Paris Fashion Week. The limited-edition collections are released biannually.
- – H&M Foundation starts as a non-profit global foundation, funded by the Stefan Persson family.
- – Garment collecting is introduced in H&M stores worldwide. Since t hen, thousands of tons of old textiles have been collected for reuse and recycling.
- – H&M Group launches yet another brand: & Other Stories, with design studios in Stockholm, Paris and Los Angeles.
H&M’s rapid expansion continues and there are now stores in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia.
- – H&M Foundation launches The Global Change Award. The GCA is a challenge designed to spur innovations that can accelerate the shift from a linear to a circular fashion industry.
- – H&M Beauty concept launches.
The new brand ARKET, created as a modern-day market offering a broad yet selected range of functional and timeless essentials, opens its first physical store on Regent Street in London, and online in 18 European markets.
The new brand Afound opens its first stores in Sweden and online. Afound is a new marketplace with discounted fashion and lifestyle products from the brands within the H&M Group, but also other popular brands.
- – H&M became the first big fashion brand in the world to provide detailed information on product level about materials and the supply chain.
- – H&M Group increased its ownership in Sellpy, an e-commerce platform for second-hand items. H&M Group is now the main owner.
Integration of digital and physical sales channels continues as H&M is now present online in more than 50 markets.
The ’20s and onwards
After more than 20 years as chair of the board, Stefan Persson hands over to the third generation as Karl-Johan Persson is elected new chair and Helena Helmersson becomes new CEO.
- – New business ventures Singular Society and Creator Studio are launched.
- – H&M Innovation Stories was launched and comprises a series of themed collections dedicated to promoting more sustainable materials, technologies, and production processes. The project goes hand-in-hand with H&M’s fashion rental service, established in 2019.
- – H&M Group introduced the latest climate targets to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain by 56% by 2030, and by 90% by 2040, and in the same year achieve net-zero.
- – H&M Group integrated the annual and sustainability reports for the first time, as an important yet natural step in our development.
- – The newest H&M sports brand H&M Move was launched worldwide.
Today, H&M Group is present in more than 75 markets worldwide, of which almost 60 also offer online sales.