Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Why I Worship H&M

Throughout life, we have been given the pleasure of either witnessing or finding out about the greatest love stories which, like a Disney tale, we completely take to heart. Will we either forget about the love that Romeo and Juliet shared together before their untimely deaths, or even the news stations which sizzled like electricity at the peak of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart's romantic relationship several years ago?

Let's face it: we love love, whether we have fallen into its gracious arms or are intrigued by somebody else's personal affairs. However, love doesn't always present itself in the form of kisses, hugs and all the pleasure that takes place in the sauciest of Hollywood films: it can also be extended to our interests with which, as kind-hearted creatures, we are capable of creating a relationship entangled in passion, excitement and, perhaps without needing to declare it, love.

Love doesn't only exist among two people; it can be focused to another object, regardless of whether it will give it back to you. Sometimes, love might only be felt on one side because the other doesn't have access to emotions - for example, do you really expect that 60 inch Smart TV to give you a hug, despite you loving it so?

We can experience love by replenishing our needs which, in my case, relates to my shopping ones. Especially of the H&M kind.

For several years, I have been a devoted fan of Nordic (or, to be more specific, Swedish) clothing which, as always, must be bought from one of the most famous clothing retailers in the world: H&M. Renowned for its pocket-friendly, yet good ethics policies, H&M is my equivalent of the Queen: I bow and curtsy whenever visiting a store or accessing its website because, in my eyes, it is the height of royalty. Piles of regal-looking clothes adorn the modern shops, whilst my head is caught in a whirlpool of giddiness as I gaze at the latest collections online. If H&M is the Head of State, I am its loyal, humble (and shop-obsessed) servant: a role which I take very seriously.

In case you are bewildered as to why I've suddenly lost my mind and morphed into such a style-conscious creature, it is about time to take a trip down memory lane where my fashion journey - towards success, of course - began.

Before I first encountered H&M, I had recently been introduced to fashion, where my knowledge didn't really go further beyond the realms of Chanel and Dior which, unsurprisingly, were my fantasy choice of shops. For hours, I would lose track of time by simply pouring over pictures of breath-taking outfits in the high-end fashion magazines, wondering how creations so beautiful could ever be worn by a twelve year old girl like myself. That side of fashion was a fantasy which stood very little chance of being lived in an ordinary English town where tracksuits (with three or more toothpaste-esque stripes symbolized your upper status), flesh-baring crop tops and scruffy Converse-wannabe trainers were the locals' take on Versace's latest collection. If I wanted to be stylish, I needed a major wake-up call in realism - otherwise I would never awake from dreams of haute couture gowns!

With a purse loaded with a week's worth of pocket money gripped in my hand, I plunged myself into the shallowest end that could be found in the vast pool of fashion: the cheaper-than-cheap shops. Partly due to the lack of selection available in my town and my ambition to keep costs low, I started a love affair with the likes of New Look and Primark - whose names are literally tattooed on some teenagers' heads - which ended quicker than one of Harry Styles' many romances.

Primark lasted a mere half an hour while I visited a store at the age of eleven, initially amazed with the cheap prices but poor quality and little selection of half-decent styles. Although I did buy one top, my satisfaction turned into full-blown horror after it began to fall apart when during its first wash - needless to say, I learnt a lesson that was more valuable than the shop's entire stock!

As for New Look, I clung a little tighter in the hope that my faith would be redeemed at one point - even now, memories of heartfelt elation when I made my first purchase before Christmas are as rich as ever - but my interest slowly slid away, finally realizing that my initial little-girl excitement that used to fill me like a glass of Coca Cola was not going to be resurrected. Besides, New Look shared several qualities with Primark - the least of all being the short life of its clothing, which resulted in most of my purchases being chucked out to a car boot sale within months of buying (and wasting my money on) them.

Losing hard-earned cash on clothes that, from a distance, looked great but displayed a slight cheapness up close is a horrible feeling that dawns upon you after one purchase too many. Though years of pocket money have since recompensated from what I used to spend at those shops, I cannot help but feel annoyed at myself for making several unwise decisions as an eleven or twelve year old. Ah, if only I'd met H&M - my saviour - a bit sooner, and my woes would never have been so great!

Anyway, my first experience with H&M was shortly before one Christmas, back in the days when I would rob my whole family of their opportunity to access the internet whilst acting on one of my 'shopping-comes-first' moments. Having heard the name before - but not knowing a single thing about it - I logged onto its just-launched website, and browsed its ranges. And, without exaggerating too much, I was amazed - stylish, teen-friendly (in the adults' range) surrounded me from every angle, crying to be added to my wardrobe!

Within seconds, I was drawn towards a baby pink top with puffed sleeves (thought definitely not à la Dynasty), the sight of which made me backtrack on a decision to cut out pink clothing. As it was nearing Christmas time, I added the top to my Christmas list - and, until around a year ago, I was still wearing it, albeit in a different style to how I used to wear it as an eleven year old. Not bad for a top that only cost just under £8 - no kidding! Several years on, the top was still as soft as when I ripped open the packaging on Christmas Day, which was the base of a life-changing epiphany for me: spending little doesn't always mean that you get little back.

Think of the German supermarkets Aldi and Lidl which, despite their rock-bottom prices, have established solid reputations for their high quality products that don't break the bank. If they can do it, why should it be impossible in the world of fashion? Of course, H&M do sell some expensive stuff, such as leather handbags or pieces created in a collaboration with a well-known designer (remember Versace? How I would have loved to have gotten my hands on the dresses!), but the majority of their clothing are accessible to the likes of a budget conscious teenager, who still gains plenty from the styles. H&M lives up to those dreams that would dominate my sleeping hours when fashion first took my world by storm: I might not spend too much money on what I buy, but I'm not short-changed.

Besides, most of the stuff that I buy (typically on the internet, as I don't necessarily have the time to visit the just-opened store in the nearest city) are discounted, as were the majority of the order that I placed yesterday which, in less than two months' time, will be resting underneath the Christmas tree. A self-confessed bargainista, my eyes light up like a Jack-A-Lantern if I encounter a sale, which can be smelt from a far distance away - even the internet is no exception! Also, H&M usually offers its online customers a discount code, which knocks several pounds off the total sum of an order, or suddenly discounts a certain range (right now is coats, scarves, gloves and hats) come Monday morning. Talk about a decent way of treating its loyal subjects - a.k.a. me!

Last Christmas, I adored H&M to the extent that I even splashed on a copy of The Sims 2: H&M Fashion Stuff game, which offered my Sims the opportunity to shop in H&M stores and wear their amazing clothes. As you are probably thinking, my only video game must feature H&M in one form or another! Still, it did nicely spice up my game...

Love comes in many forms, yet is equally important whether it lies among people, interests, objects or indeed clothing retailers. I will make no secret of it: I love H&M. And, as I show off the great garments that sit proudly in my wardrobe, I'm proud of it. Well, wouldn't any fashionista say so?

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