Finally! We’ve Uncovered What H&M Really Stands For

Put your fast-fashion IQ to the test and find out what H&M really stands for

Founded in 1947, Swedish clothing retailer H&M has burgeoned into one of the most recognizable brand icons in the fashion industry. The store is a fast-fashion staple, with a strong presence in malls and shopping centers around the world. But despite H&M’s booming popularity and countless brick-and-mortar stores, most of us don’t know what those renowned 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 some retailers even have hidden messages in their company logos!). 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 named it Hennes, which translates from Swedish to mean “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 originally ran.

After diversifying his stores with outdoors equipment, Persson decided to delve into men’s and children’s fashion as well. Obviously, the Hennes name couldn’t stick around due to its complete inaccuracy, so Persson decided to rename his stores 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 their shops and expand beyond their Scandinavian territory. The first U.S. store finally opened its doors in 2000, on Fifth Avenue in New York City, and since then has spiraled into the global retail phenomenon we know so well today.

Regardless, Scandinavians and many other countries still refer to the store by its initial brand name: Hennes.

Who knew? Now you can feel just a little bit smarter next time you’re strolling through the mall.

Hana Hong
Hana is a journalist and storyteller who writes for Reader's Digest, InStyle, CollegeFashionista, Her Campus and The Fashion Network, among other publications. She hails from the Midwest, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in News-Editorial Journalism, but has a passion for the East Coast.