H&M Isn't the Solution to Austin Fashion, It's Just Another Store
When I moved to Austin a year and a half ago, I have to admit I was disappointed by the lack of an H&M in the area. In Boston, I frequented several of the store’s locations as a place to get a variety of clothes at inexpensive prices.
When H&M announced they were coming to Austin, I was excited that this staple store would be around, and I began to notice that others were excited as well. Austin-based reporters, bloggers and tweeters flooded our local chunk of the Internet with the ever-loaded word “fashionista” in high anticipation of the coming of the H&M.
The arrival of H&M would turn over a new leaf in Austin’s fashion scene! People would begin caring about fashion! People would put effort into their wardrobe! The reason Austin’s fashion is so boring has always been the lack of an H&M and finally, that would end!
Austin’s H&M opened Saturday in The Domain to a crowd of what I estimated to be at least 1,500. I swung by for two reasons – one, to indulge my retail whore side and hopefully score one of the 500 gift cards they were giving away, and two, to take some photos for the Austin Post. I couldn’t believe the crowd. Men and women of all ages and body types stood in a line that wrapped around a full Domain block and ended in a large mass in a herding area. They cheered, they danced, they celebrated.
Although they seemed to be having fun, people don’t seem to realize that H&M isn’t the answer to Austin’s style sense, or lack thereof. H&M is simply a place to get affordable basic wardrobe stock, as well as trendy pieces priced low enough that you don’t have to feel bad about wearing them for only one season. H&M will not automatically make you stylish. H&M will not magically make you want to dress better. H&M will not stop you from leaving the house all winter in the same dark skinny jeans, knee-high brown boots, T-shirt and sweater.
The key to a great wardrobe is mixing and matching pieces from a variety of places and styles. Copying an H&M mannequin’s wardrobe piece for piece won’t make you a “fashionista,” it’ll make you a person who has successfully mastered the skill of imitation. I’m not knocking H&M. Like I said, I missed the store when it wasn’t here, and now that it is, I’ll shop there. I’m just saying it’s not the only place I’ll shop.
I’ll continue pairing items bought there with items bought at Goodwill, at Target, at Marshall’s, at the boutiques on South Congress, at the North Loop vintage stores and at Macy’s. I’ll continue experimenting with colors and patterns and with layers and fabrics. And I’ll continue not caring if nobody else gets it.
In a town where jeans and a T-shirt are the go-to choices for the majority of men and women, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that anyone who tries anything different is called a “hipster” in derogatory tones. Does that mean that a hipster is just someone who tries something different and is probably having more fun than you?
Austinites seem to feel comfortable in shorts and a tank top in summer and jeans and a T-shirt in winter. Maybe it’s insecurity with their own fashion sense that makes these people fall back on the old “hipster” insult but then line up for hours outside an H&M, thinking it will finally make them fashionable.
H&M won’t make you fashionable, but it will expand your wardrobe choices. It’s up to you to decide what to do with those expanded choices. Are you going to use H&M as another place to buy solid T-shirts and jeans, or are you going to try something new? Get a little weird, Austin.