Part Muji, part Margaret Howell, Arket’s merchandise (pictured) is strong on basics in trans-seasonal, utilitarian designs. A cotton T-shirt collection will come in three different weights and styles, from £12, the jeans are priced from £55. Arket’s promotional literature is steeped in the language of craft and sustainability: a printed floral is based on art work from the archives of a fabric manufacturer, the cashmere is knit with a recycled yarn where possible. Axelsson is also especially proud of the identification system that will issue each product with a nine-digit code “to make it easy for customers to find, and re-find products, as well as being a tool for our archive”.
So far, so rustik. But don’t be fooled by the in-store, single-origin blend Swedish speciality coffee, Arket is a big corporate beast. Owned by the Swedish H&M group, it will become the eighth brand to launch under its umbrella - which also includes Monki, & Other Stories and COS - and will represent the latest attempt by the Swedish retailer to corner new territory on a high street already well colonised by its stores. The group reported sales of SKr51.4bn (£4.8bn) in its second quarter in May.
The question is whether we still have room in our lives for another Nordic knit or Klippan blanket. Which gap can this new brand possibly fill? “We believe that Arket complements the existing retail market by offering a destination that goes beyond apparel and addresses the needs of a customer who has high demands but little time,” says Axelsson. “Our assortment is conceived to simplify choices rather than overwhelm customers.”