Ever wonder who the real visionary is behind today's fast-fashion revolution? Who is responsible for filling every street corner from Hong Kong to Honolulu with the latest trendy lookat a price that usually rings up at less than $100? Look no further than Stockholm and the office of Margareta van den Bosch, 64, the design guru behind H&M, the $10 billion fast-fashion retail powerhouse. Overseeing a Stockholm-based team of more than 100 designers, Van den Bosch has spent the past 20 years interpreting trends at lightning speed and then bringing them to the street for a great price. Under her guidanceand with the help of H&M's global production-and-manufacturing machinea garment can move from the sketch pad to the store hanger in just 20 days. In the average year, Van den Bosch oversees the production of more than 500 million items of clothing for the brand.
Not your typical fashion dictator, Van den Bosch sees herself more as a den mother who coddles her team of designers out of the H&M nerve center, affectionately known as the White Room. When she isn't there, she is scouring the flea markets of London or the fabric fair in Paris looking for ideas for the customer she is said to understand innately. In other words, Van den Bosch doesn't rely on runway trends or anything too complicated-looking on the hanger. Her latest coup has been to sign up big-name designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Viktor & Rolfnot to mention celebrities like Madonnato create collections for the brand. Next up will be the first Italian designer to do the H&M honors: Roberto Cavalli will launch a line for men and one for women in November.
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