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The grand opening of the H&M clothing store at the Kings Plaza Mall (Flatbush Avenue at Avenue U) opened with a scandalous premise on Friday, Dec. 14. Customers were encouraged to remove their shirts upon entering the store - for a good cause.

Their shirts will be donated by H&M to Services for the Under-served (SUS) Starrett Supported Housing in Canarsie. The first 500 shoppers who stripped off their shirts received a free T-shirt in return - so they didn’t have to go home topless. (At left) Rob Hony of Belle Harbor, wearing just a smile, took H&M up on its free T offer.

"As a company that is in the business of dressing people with style, we thought it was a natural fit to develop a program that would help dress people in need, especially this time of year," said H&M spokeswoman Karen Belva.

According to Joakim Gip, marketing manager for H&M U.S., the clothing drive was a success.

"We’re still counting - the shirts went to the laundry - but we believe we collected more than 500 shirts," said Gip. The shirts will be donated to the SUS housing division at 11325 Seaview Ave. in Canarsie.

H&M opened their first store in Vasteras, Sweden in 1947 and their first U.S. store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in March 2000. Gip says the new H&M store opened at Kings Plaza Mall "because it has a high number of visitors."

The new store, which is H&M’s 32nd in the United States, and its first in Brooklyn, contains about 20,000 square feet, employs 57 people and sells clothing lines for men, women, teens and children.

The store’s philosophy is to provide fashionable, quality clothes at the lowest possible price, explained Gip, and therefore depends on selling a high volume of goods.

"The Brooklyn store has thousands of goods, but is able to keep up with the quick turnover of fashion because we’re really fast," said Gip. "We replenish the store every day, some H&M stores a couple of times a day. Even though we’re a volume retailer, we sell unique lines and we’re time relevant. Whatever you need for your holiday parties - it’s in the store now."

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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