H&M Rings the Changes in Hammersmith

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Walk into an H&M and you know where you are. This is one of the spiritual homes of cut-price fashion with bright lights, high-density merchandising and near supermarket-style checkouts. All good, if a little predictable.

Now go down to Hammersmith in west London and the newly-refurbished H&M will confound every preconception you have about the brand, apart from the logo above the door. Black metal and glass form the exterior, making it feel rather more group-up and like sister brand Arket, than H&M.

Then, indoors, this is a chestnut puree brown space with hero lighting provided by lights on tracks and the stock is thinner on the ground than would normally be expected. At the heart of the three-floor store a cast-iron staircase, there are no escalators, is obvious from all points of the shop not just because it is a major feature but also because equipment heights are lower.

With stone floors for womenswear and herringbone pattern brick flooring on the men’s floor in the basement there is nothing about this store that is H&M normal. Is this a brand that has realised that its shoppers are growing up, or is it a maverick one-off? You have to hope it’s the former and this is a branch worth visiting.