Is H&M Magazine just a giant advertisement for what's inside H&M stores? Yes. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have tiny glimmers of awesome.
H&M is glossy and oversized. And, for some reason, when scanned, the pages show up with narrow horizontal lines all over them. But if you can overlook that, you'll find that H&M has fun with fashion.
Ads are sparse in H&M: There are, of course, a couple of H&M ads, as well as a hair dye advertisement and a shoe ad. But the magalog actually has stories! Trend pieces, fashion shoots, etc.
Of course, since the store is so on-trend, it's tough to say if these "trend" pages — there are loads — are newsy. They really just exist to prove how H&M is keeping up with what's on the runway and what celebs are wearing. A "Flower Power" page features Alexa Chung in a floral dress and then 12 floral items — dresses, pants, sneakers — sold at H&M.
The thing is, "advertorial" is less offensive in this context than in mainstream fashion mags. Because when Marie Claire dedicates page after page to one designer who happens to be an advertiser, at worst, it seems like a conflict of interests; at best it seems like sucking up. H&M exists to promote H&M clothing. It's transparent: You're opening the magazine knowing that you're entering the world of the store. (Plus, the mag is free in stores.) There's no deceit; you're not expecting any kind of editorial standards.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wouldn't want all publications to be mere ad campaigns, but if you're going to be a marketing tool, be good at it. While flipping through H&M, I kept wanting to rip out pages and hang them on my bulletin board; that rarely happens with Vogue.
An interview with Sonia Rykiel — who is a guest designer for H&M this spring — not only advertises her line, but introduces shoppers to the woman behind the name, whom they may know nothing about.
H&M magazine can't really compete with a "real" magazine: It's thin, both in pages and intellectual heft. But as something free to flip through? It won me over.
One of the best things in the Spring 2010 issue of H&M is a story called "In The Front Row." It's an insidery-look at the major fashion shows, what goes on backstage, and who attends. The illustrations, by my new favorite artist, Liselotte Watkins, add charm and whimsy to a straight-forward piece.
I can't remember the last time a mainstream fashion mag had something this fun. It seems like most magazines try for serious and upscale. Or that the editors think "fun" is having the model jump on a beige background.
Yes, that's right. Tavi. Next to Anna Della Rosso from Vogue Nippon.
H&M also has fashion shoots. Some are cute, some are dreamy, some are meh. But unlike when you're flipping through Vogue, Elle or even Teen Vogue, there's no heart-stopping sticker shock. Never a $64,000 mink coat dipped in gold. Those pants are $34.95; that coat is $129.
Oh, and the fashion ladymags generally don't offer six pages of a handsome man wearing different suits.