Andrew Gombert/Epa/REX/ShutterstockFounded in 1947, Swedish clothing retailer H&M has burgeoned into one of the most recognizable brand icons in the fashion industry. We can always sleep a little more easily knowing that fast fashion has our back in case of a surprise outing or spontaneous rendezvous. (These 11 simple fashion upgrades can come to the rescue should a surprise outing occur!) But despite H&M’s booming popularity and countless brick and mortar stores, most of us don’t know what those renown initials actually stand for.
If you’ve never really given a second thought to the meaning behind the acronym, you’re definitely not alone. Some stores just seem to have been there since the beginning of time. However, most retailers actually carry a very interesting story behind their name, and H&M is no exception. The name itself is brimming with history.
When founder Erling Persson opened his first H&M shop in Sweden in 1947, he deemed it as Hennes, which translates into Swedish for “Hers.” This was quite a literal rendering as Hennes only sold women’s clothing at the time.
Twenty one years later in 1968, Hennes acquired another brand, Mauritz Widforss, a Stockholm-based retailer that sold hunting and fishing equipment—an admittedly drastic change from the exclusive women’s department he was used to.
After dabbling in a different realm, Persson decided to delve into men’s and children’s fashion as well. Obviously, the name couldn’t stick around due to its complete inaccuracy, so he decided to tweak the name to Hennes and Mauritz.
Even so, it wasn’t until 1974 that Hennes & Mauritz finally shortened their name to the catchier (and more familiar) H&M. Once the brand abbreviated its name, they went on to rebrand all of their shops and expand beyond their Scandinavian territory. The first U.S. store finally opened its doors in 2000 on Fifth Avenue, New York, eventually spiraling into the global retail phenomenon we know so well today. (Interested in learning more about America’s most popular brands? Meet the Trusted League, the 40 most trusted brands in America.)
Regardless, Scandinavians and many other countries still refer to the store as its initial brand name: Hennes.
Who knew? Now you can feel just a little bit smarter next time you’re strolling through the mall.