Parker: H&M opening to stir fashion frenzy downtown

By Penny Parker
Denver Post Columnist
Roughly 40 fashion experts layered chilly-weather clothing on mannequins, adjusted racks, straightened signs and gave orders over walkie- talkies Wednesday to put the spit, polish and sparkle on the new H&M store that opens at noon today in the Denver Pavilions.

If you’re planning to show up for the opening, expect to join more than 1,000 metro-area fashion-conscious bargain hunters waiting in line.

When the Dallas store opened earlier this year, the line of roughly 1,200 people started forming at 7 p.m. the night before, according to H&M spokeswoman Pansy Tolou.

The much-anticipated Denver opening of the international chain that carries women’s, men’s and children’s clothing likely will feed the frenzy of the H&M faithful who had to travel out of state to get the low-priced fashion the store is famous for.

That demand also is pent up because H&M does not have an online system for ordering merchandise, Denver retail experts say. Website shopping for the store will launch next year, Tolou said.

The 21,000-square-foot store inside the former Niketown space on the 16th Street Mall will be the first Colorado location. A second store in Cherry Creek Shopping Center is slated to open in late spring.

“The big headline here is that H&M’s selection of downtown Denver, and specifically the Denver Pavilions, as the location of their flagship store . . . is a huge validation of the Denver Pavilions as the one retail trade area in our market that serves the entire metropolitan area,” said Mark Sidell, president of Pavilions owner Gart Properties.

The Pavilions store will carry sections such as men’s suits (priced at around $250) and the Versace line (coming Nov. 19) that aren’t available in every H&M outlet.

On opening day, deeply discounted specials will be offered for that day only.

“Price point is one of the biggest draws at H&M,” said Tolou, sporting an H&M black leather jacket and flowered tapered pants. “It’s an important message to customers. We buy in such high volume that we can offer lower prices.”

H&M, whose full name is Hennes & Maritz, operates roughly 2,300 stores worldwide. Denver is No. 230 in the U.S.