H&M Grand Opening @ Pasadena, CA

H&M Grand Opening @ Pasadena, CA

Friday, September 22, 2006 by Wendy Lam

Info & Photos via: Pasadena Star News

Thanks to Esther for the link, now we can all see the ‘craziness’ of the grand opening of H&M @ Pasadena! This is just crazy, I didn’t think it was that long of a line. But guess I’m wrong, see for yourself haha!!!

Check out the video!!

It was as if a high-fashion bomb hit Old Pasadena Thursday afternoon.

Stylish women stalked West Colorado Boulevard, stopping strangers, calling out from cars, asking, “Where is it? Which way is it?”

It? H&M, sweetie, the style-forward Scandinavian chain, of course.

Their numbers clogged the retail and dining neighborhood’s parking garages, filling what would have been the wide open spaces of their upper levels in the middle of a weekday.

With their heels clicking hard on the sidewalks, the lucky ones – or the simply more determined – walked by clutching white plastic bags with the two hot red letters emblazoned on the side.

The day had come. Southern California got its first H&M clothing store, and even casual observers had to know.

Prior to its opening, about 500 people formed a line from the front of the store that snaked around the block.

More pics and info after the jump…

At its head, Vanessa Alzamora, 18, had camped out overnight. With two friends, the Mission Hills residents decided to pull up some chairs around 6 p.m. Wednesday when they found out the store was giving out gift cards worth $10 to $300 for the first 100 shoppers.

H&M put Old Pasadena on the map for them.

“We had never heard about it,” Alzamora said.

Farther down the line, Rocio Estrada had turned down a job for the opportunity to be among the first in the store.

“I told them I was unavailable,” the 26-year-old Inglewood costumer said. “I’m doing research.”

For years, fashionistas had wondered why the Swedish brand eluded Western cities. The legend grew as girlfriends returned from trips to Chicago and New York with stories of their glorious finds.

The first stateside store opened in 2000 on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Then, H&M landed in Northern California, with two stores in San Francisco opening last November.

In Old Pas, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake blared from speakers as, 30 minutes before the noon opening, salespeople gathered outside and danced en masse on the sidewalk.

Then the floodgates opened.

Once inside the store, shoppers with armfuls of clothes weaved expertly through the racks, snatching up items like tan wool-blend trapeze jackets ($70), black Chanel-esque quilted clutches ($13) and silk leopard-print cardigans ($25).

Within 10 minutes, the only black and white jersey kimono dress ($35) left was a size 12.

Besides frenzied openings, the retailer is known for moderate prices and looks that could have just stepped off the runway. The concept is similar to chains such Forever 21, but, say the fashion-conscious, with famously tight quality controls.

Along with excellent imitations, H&M has also partnered with esteemed designers including Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Viktor & Rolf.

The 9,000-square-foot, two-level Pasadena store stocks women’s apparel and lingerie in the Colorado Boulevard space between Tiffany’s and Abercrombie & Fitch in the former United Artists movie theater building.

A 17,000-square-foot H&M will open in Arcadia’s Santa Anita Mall in November with men’s fashions as well. A 20,000-square-foot “full concept store” will open at the Beverly Center on Oct. 26, the chain’s Lisa Sandberg said.

The store is a sign of an Old Pas uptick in national retailers, says Eric Duyshart, the city’s economic development manager. “That’s both good for the district and challenging, since we want to maintain a balance with some independent stores,” he said.

Old Pasadena has a growing prominence in the region, he added.

“It’s positioned very well now that if there’s a retailer that wants to open in Southern California, they look at Beverly Hills, Costa Mesa, San Diego and Pasadena.”

The city markets the downtown area as the real deal: authentic old buildings with people who actually live, work and play among them.

The Old Pas real estate landscape has changed, says Robert Montano, business district coordinator for the city.

When J. Crew opened in Old Pasadena in the early ’90s, the going rate was $4 per square foot. Now, Tiffany’s and H&M are leased out for $8 a square foot, Montano said.

“Districts are always evolving. They never get to one point and then stay there. There are real estate trends, fashion trends,” he said. “Old Pasadena will be a different place. Change is inevitable.”



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