Fashion Victims and Australia’s first H&M Store

fashion-fashion_o_675052So, the first H&M store has just opened in Australia. In Melbourne of course, as Melbourne hits that magical sweet spot between up itself enough to prioritise fashion over everything but football, and cold enough that people need clothes all year round.

A stylish person in Sydney would only need half the wardrobe, and in Queensland and Western Australia, style counts as having a decent range of swimwear, singlets and thongs.

So what does H&M stand for? Not ‘Her Majesty’s’ or ‘heroes & marvels’ although I wish it did. It’s Hennes & Mauritz, and is a Swedish company.

Combine that with Australia’s hunger for anything that’s popular overseas, and H&M stores will soon likely be dotting Australia like the Starbucks of old.

So will I ever shop there? Probably. The clothes are decent and reasonably priced.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you don’t shop there for ethical reasons. If we all only did what was ethical, then everyone in Australia would be wearing skirts made from grass grown in our own backyards, eating only that same grass, and growing it using fertiliser we’ve created ourselves. Since every lawn is a massive waste of resources, and should be put to good use before using anything else.

One of my favourite check shirts came from H&M and I wore it for years. Until it finally tore apart while attempting a particularly daring during a drunken dance move for a girl’s benefit. She was so impressed that she left – without me. Then I was forced to leave, as apparently a torn check shirt isn’t appropriate attire for an invite-only party at a cocktail bar. Either is dancing on the bar. And not having an invite. The prudes.

As far as clothes go, I don’t have a problem with H&M, and as they are the second biggest global clothing retailer on the planet, neither does the rest of the world.

What I don’t like, or understand, is lining up for stuff.

People were queuing for hours for the privilege of being the first in there for stuff you can just waltz in and get a few days later. Stuff readily available in thousands of other stores before the store even opened.

(Also in Melbourne this week, people were lining up to be the first at a new McDonald’s store. I don’t even know how to begin explaining that one.)

H&M are also popular because of this thing called ‘fast fashion’. Which is a fancy way of saying they’ve always got new stuff replacing the old stuff, so there’s always new stuff for people to buy.Fashion Meme_2

Zara do the same thing. So instead of four seasons for fashion, there’s now about forty.

In order to keep up with the latest trends, you either need a wardrobe that extends over several levels of your mansion. Or to be making regular stops at the charity bins.

One offshoot of this whole fast fashion thing is better clothes being available at the second-hand stores, where I do the bulk of my clothes buying.

I don’t understand anyone who likes shopping. For me it’s purely functional. I need a new shirt, so I buy one. I’ve been wearing the same style of jeans for years and a hot girl once told me I looked good in check shirts. It’s a combo that works so that’s fashion – tick.

Three other reasons I am thoroughly perplexed by anyone who’s continually clamouring to be clad in the latest fashions.

1. It’s exhausting, time consuming and incredibly expensive.

2. If it looks good on a model or in a magazine doesn’t mean it looks good on you. How many times have you seen someone in what’s supposed to be the latest, and snickered to yourself? People struggling to be the most stylish always look the most ridiculous.

Fashion Meme_3

3. Unless you look ridiculous, nobody cares. You might be well aware of how hot-off-the-shelves your latest sweater is, but you’re the only one. We’re all so busy looking at ourselves, preening and checking our reflection in anything that reflects, that unless you look truly freakish, nobody gives you a glance.

Listen closely to any fashionista interviewed about the season’s new styles, and they’ll often squeeze in, between their tired treatise on what’s in and why, a statement very similar to this, ‘What never goes out of fashion is what looks good on you.’

Indicating to me, that with my jeans-and-check-shirt combination, I’ve won fashion.

Not that it matters. Remember, nobody’s as obsessed with you, as you and nobody’s watching.

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

Catch him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20.

His first book ‘Mining My Own Business’ about life on a FIFO mining site is available now.