In a world of fast fashion, the consumer has a sh*t ton of options – a lot of times too many options. While it may seem like the big brands have all the authority to persuade you, ultimately the power lies in your hands – yes, you! But having all that power doesn’t mean it’s any easier to be an educated shopper.
Luckily, we’re here to help! To make your life easier we sent StyleDemocracy’s Aly Zorn undercover to compare two of the biggest brands out there right now: Uniqlo and H&M. You might be wondering who is better – we definitely were too. From a distance, both Uniqlo and H&M seem to have similar offerings so we wanted to discover who really stands out.
Let the battle of the stores begin!
The Uniqlo store was clean, bright, and immaculate… not even a spec of dust could be seen. Pieces of clothing were folded and organized to a tee. Nothing seemed to be misplaced making it easy to find a particular size or style. In terms of innovativeness, the Uniqlo store was quite forward thinking. Product information is built right into the modern and pleasing displays, store maps are set up at focal points for easier navigation, and shopping baskets are available for use. Men and women’s sections are divided and the sale section is designated to one area which makes finding bargains that much more convenient. Change rooms are alright – maybe a bit small considering the vastness of the actual store.
To my surprise, H&M was also very clean and organized, however, Uniqlo was slightly tidier than H&M – there were some clothes out of place and the displays/layouts are definitely more chaotic. The store itself is fairly innovative if you really take a moment to look. It boasts a similar setup with store directories at focal points, shopping bags, digital displays, and a station where you can rate your visit. The key differences at H&M were that the change rooms were bigger and the sale section was quite scattered and harder to distinguish.
The assortment and offering available in-store is where some real differences come into play. Uniqlo is focused on providing affordable basics with innovative fabric technology, meaning you won’t find many fast-fashion pieces or runway knock-offs. While they are on trend and have a large assortment, the breadth is actually quite small as several styles are replicated in a number of colours or a signature silhouette is slightly altered.
In terms of quality, Uniqlo conveniently lists country of origin and all information regarding fabric content on the price tag. They’re very transparent about what you’re buying relative to price and it’s actually very fair and affordable – a cashmere sweater can range from $40 to $100 for example. Fit was good, but not great… what you would expect for the price point.
H&M definitely has a wider assortment between the two and is very trend focused with a deep breadth of fashion items and runway knock-offs along with basics. Although, the quality feels cheaper – probably due to the fact that about 85% of the fabric content in the store was either rayon or polyester.
Finding the fabric content is slightly harder. Viewable clothing tags state the country of origin, but you have to search through the tags on the inside of the garment to find the fabric content. I’m not sure what they’re trying to hide – when you’re selling $10 tops, they’re obviously not 100% cotton. Pricing is mainly fair, but we found some trendier items to be overpriced. Fit was poor – there were major discrepancies between styles.
Customer Service/Return Policy
The staff at Uniqlo were very friendly and helpful. I talked to a number of different sales associates and every individual was well-informed, knowledgeable and polite. The only thing I noticed was that sales staff are a bit sparse and it was initially hard finding someone. Uniqlo’s return policy is pretty standard – 30 days with receipt and tag.
H&M’s sales staff were also very friendly and helpful – they were a bit more on the ball than Uniqlo when it came to approaching customers and asking if they needed help. Although, there was one sore thumb working the change rooms who seemed to hate his job – literally grumbled one-word answers to my questions but hey, maybe I caught him on a bad day. H&M’s return policy is the same but slightly more lenient than Uniqlo’s – you don’t need the tags, just the receipt (so they say).
And the winner of Uniqlo vs. H&M is…
Overall, I would have to say that Uniqlo is the winner here. Agree or disagree but store innovativeness, aesthetic, layout, fit, and quality relative to price point are better at Uniqlo. The H&M store is a less pleasing experience, fit is a bit whack, and garments seem to be of a cheaper quality. However, in my books, H&M wins on product assortment – they have a wider array of styles available and they’re definitely the go-to for fad pieces. While there can only be one winner, I have to say it was a closer battle than I thought. Congrats to Uniqlo for taking the big win!