Update: H&M confirmed Friday that it has leased a 24,000 square foot retail space at The Domain and officially plans to open its doors in the fall of 2012. In addition to mens and womens, the Austin location will carry H&M's childrens collection.
Originally published June 4, 2012
There's usually a morsel of truth to every rumor. A really good rumor to wake up to this past weekend? That H&M is eyeing Austin as a next-step in its Texas takeover.
Now, it's all hearsay at this point, as the Statesman pointed out in an ecstatic Saturday morning report. "Seems like many of the fashion-forward folks here in town are convinced the trendy clothing store with a cult following has already firmed up plans for an Austin store," Gary Dinges wrote.
But let that looseness not discourage hopeful shoppers, as the global fashion giant recently entered the Texas market with three locations in Dallas and two in Houston.
It makes sense that Austin would be next. And where would be a better fit than at The Domain, next to distant and not so distant relatives like Zara, Forever 21, Madewell, Intermix and Neiman's?
In fact, CultureMap Houston followed the debut of Houston's H&Ms quite closely, and they too were born out of rumors, suggestions and lots and lots of crossed-fingers.
The timeline of whispers-turned-reality went something like this:
October 26, 2010 - CultureMap reports that the Swedish retailer is set to take Texas, but Dallas gets first dibs. Rumors for a Houston location abound. "Traditionally, the chain opens multiple stores in a city — it has 10 in New York City and Chicago, five in Atlanta and three in St. Louis — and once in the Lone Star state, it makes sense that Houston will be too big to pass up," Heather Staible writes.
August 18, 2011 - Almost a year later, Dallas NorthPark H&M opens; H&M public relations manager Pansy Tolou confirms Houston will get an H&M. “Once we open in a market we expand fairly quickly,” Tolou says. “When we look at cities to go into, we look at location and layout of the city."
January 5, 2012 - CultureMap hears rumors from staffers working the floor at the NorthPark H&M that Houston's Willowbrook Mall will be among the locations receiving an H&M.
February 1, 2012 - Just a few weeks later, H&M officially confirms two Houston locations, including aforementioned Willowbrook.
May 29, 2012 - H&M holds social media contest for Houston opening; winner receives a 30-minute head start on shopping opening day.
May 31, 2012 - H&M officially opens first location in Houston's Baybrook Mall. Girls go wild. "More than 1,000 shoppers lined up to get a peek at the new store in Baybrook Mall. Some fans of the fast fashion chain had arrived as early as 3 p.m. the previous day in order to be first in line," Erin Schwarz writes.
So if Austin's opening adhered to a similar timeline following the store's initial foray into Texas, we could be looking at an H&M around February 2013 — not even one year away.
But we'd be willing to wager that an Austin location would open even sooner than that, judging by how quickly the retailer moves once in a marketplace.
We'll be the first to let you know of any confirmations. Considering how the other Lone Star State openings unfolded, the odds seem ever in Austin's favor.