Retail concepts

Can elevated basics help fix the fast fashion problem?

Back to Basics - the rise of blank staples

What’s the appeal of blank staples?

H&M just launched Blank Staples, a line of sub American Apparel plain sweats and tees marketed in the millennial language of muted minimalism to capture the post-COVID, stay-home crowd. Meanwhile, COS (also owned by the H&M group) has launched its Core by COS* collection, which will feature seasonal wardrobe essentials for men and women.

The H&M product (below) actually looks really nice. I’m not a tracksuit kinda girl but I do have a fetish for superior quality heavyweight sweatshirts and hoodies. The Blank Staples line is a collaboration with the media brand Highsnobiety, so is targeting the maturing streetwear crowd who want quieter sporty staples. The product – well-cut sweats*, tees*, hoodies* and track pants* in 460g cotton (sweats) and 240g terry cotton (tees) with zero branding or embellishment – comes in calm neutrals around the £12-£30 mark. In streetwear speak, it’s a ‘drop’ model, meaning when they’re gone, they’re gone. (Where they failed is by not making this gender-netural. Missed a massive trick by excluding women – or womxn even – there, guys!)

Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples
Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples hoodies
The Core by COS* collection (below) is more varied. Made from sustainably sourced materials, it features a variety of Scandi casual-luxe staples like trench coats, sweats and stripy tees. The kind of stuff you always expect to find at COS but marketed as a standalone edit.

Core by COS

So why is this interesting?

If you didn’t see it, the New York Times has a very good article on the death of fashion as we know it, pointing to the excess production problem and unsustainable thirst for fast consumption. This all started before the pandemic but in the wake of COVID I can see more brands pulling back from capital F Fashion and using these minimalist staple collections as something of a palate cleanser. Even though they may seem unexciting, well-made basics can do as much to reinvigorate your wardrobe as a statement piece. If people are being more careful about how they spend, they’ll want the pieces with longevity. Quality is key here.

Of course, as is inevitable, once all the brands jump on this bandwagon, the consumer will get bored rather quickly. And that’s when they start craving novelty again. It’s this cycle that drives Fashion after all, and it was ever thus. But could the cycle be slowed once they have tasted the pleasure of a more considered pace? Well that’s the $64,000 question. To be continued…


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Daria Werbowy by David Sims for Paris Vogue; Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples x 2; COS
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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TRP Travel Retail Style Index: September 2020

NARS Icons Sanya travel retail

Welcome to a new travel retail column for DRG by Alison Farrington aka The Retail Planner (TRP)

As global travel picks up again, we look at the business and shopping trends of the travel retail world. In particular, the beauty, fashion, accessories, and watches & jewellery categories, dipping into the product exclusives and digital strategies that often launch in Asia and give the rest of the world an idea of innovations coming soon.

DFS X WECHAT LIVESTREAM.  If you’re getting ready for a Golden Week shopping trip at the end of this month in time for the Chinese autumn break, then DFS is a go-to retailer with downtown and airport locations in Hong Kong and Singapore among others. Whether you still shop in physical stores or not, if there’s one thing Covid has done for consumerism, it’s to accelerate the trend for live stream shopping and this has been especially prevalent across China via WeChat. Now DFS has joined the live stream party. (more…)

Shop the post: Giuliva Heritage x H&M (updated)

Giuliva Heritage X H&M

This new fast-meets-slow fashion collab from H&M* arrives in time for ‘back to school’ season.

Giuliva Heritage
is an Italian tailoring brand specialising in timeless silhouettes and hand-finished details. Its capsule H&M collection featuring suiting, shirt dresses and layering knits made from eco conscious materials (including recycled wool and organic cotton) launches on 3rd September. (UPDATE: It’s launched! Shop the post below.)

Giuliva Heritage X HM (more…)

Trend report: what to wear for AW20

Hermes AW20 trend report - photo by Jamie Stoker

What a weird year! It feels odd talking about new-season trends, all things considered, but there is going to be a new season and even if you’re not buying, there are other ways to be inspired by newness. Let’s say it’s also a way of looking forward, so a sort of exercise in cautious optimism. Here’s what’s in the air for AW20… (more…)