Nyden is H&M's new brand, Oscar Olsson is creative director
H&M will unveil yet another new brand early next year when it launches e-tail and pop-up label Nyden. But it will be a launch with a difference as the Millennial-focused brand, led by H&M insider Oscar Olsson, mixes co-creation, limited edition drops, higher prices than we expect from the Swedish retail giant, and influencer input guided by data. It will be designed from its Los Angeles studio.
The launch reflects Olsson’s belief that fashion’s future lies with targeting ‘tribes’ who make their own minds up about what to wear rather than big name designers dictating which looks consumers wear.
That’s why Nyden won’t be led by a designer as such but will engage with “tribe leaders” (or influencers) selected by Olson to “co-create” the clothing they want to see.
As mentioned, it will mix creativity with data-driven insights and will make heavy use of those influencers, including the most creative social media stars, as well as more traditional (but undeniably cool) celebs and others with a more esoteric appeal. It also boasts philosopher and writer Alexander Bard as its “in-house philosopher”.
Its logo is a bold forward slash and the only imagery available so far is a snatch of fast-moving lifestyle video on Instagram.
With its name derived from the Swedish words ‘ny’ (meaning ‘new’) and ‘den’ (meaning ‘it’), Olsson said in an interview with The Cut that Nyden will reverse the ‘top down’ model of brands deciding what their customers will wear simply because the customers are no longer prepared to accept it.
However, its use of tribe leaders mean it clearly still sees a place for elites of some kind. So who exactly qualifies as a tribe leader? It seems some will be known only within their communities while others will have a higher profile and be more widely known. Two names signed up so far are Doctor Woo, an Instagram star with 1.3 million followers, and Swedish actress Noomi Rapace.
And how will they work with the brand? Olsson said they would be able to access the LA design centre, going through its constantly updated materials resource to make selections from pre-approved fabrics, which would cut the lead time between concept and delivery down to three or four weeks. Customers will then buy online or at mixed reality pop-up events.
Olsson insisted that this speed to market isn’t about fast fashion in the traditional sense. Instead it will be a seasonless model with higher price points than fast fashion, those prices varying depending on the particular products each drop focuses on. Drops will also be limited, to boost the customer bond with the product and further position the label away from the fast fashion norm.
It’s an ambitious project for the company whose most recent launch, Arket, was a more ‘traditional’ affair and is still at an early stage as the company rolls out Arket stores into international markets.
With H&M finding sales growth elusive at its core brand and having launched or acquired a number of other labels, as well as Arket, in recent years, growth of its label portfolio remains a key thrust of its group strategy.
Olsson, who is little known outside of the group, joined H&M four years ago to work in its global expansion unit, looking at data and analysing how, where and why people shop. But he has run the group’s Innovation Lab since earlier this year, reporting directly to CEO Karl-Johan Persson.
Persson reportedly tasked Olson and his team to come up with the answer to the question of how people will shop in a decade’s time using market research alongside philosophy and sociology. Unlike many brand launches from rival corporations, the focus wasn’t on what the competition was doing or even on a determination to disrupt the market.
So just what is Olsson’s view of the future? He believes that fashion brands led by single creatives - the classic designer-led model - will be a thing of the past and that consumers will pay more heed to cues from “tribal leaders” rather than from such designers.
“In this future society, as any brand or any kind of provider of anything, you need to embrace the fact that the power is not in your hands,” Olsson said in the interview. “The power has shifted to what we call tribes.”
His target Millennial consumer, someone he calls a Netocrat, “is more sensitive than ever to credibility, authenticity, and personality,” as well as “exploitation of themselves or other people,” he told The Cut.
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