March 13, 2012, 4:42 PM

H&M dabbles in e-retail

The Swedish fashion retailer will sell styles designed by TV contestants.

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Apparel retailer H&M, which until now has not had an e-commerce presence in the United States, will soon sell a limited selection of products online in a tie-in with a celebrity-hosted reality TV show for aspiring designers.

An H&M communication director, Nicole Christie, who was a buyer for the chain, will serve as one of the judges of “Fashion Star,” which debuts tonight on NBC. She and judges from Saks Fifth Avenue, No. 38 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide and Macy’s Inc. (No. 17) will bid on fashions designed by contestants. The winning bidder will make those items available the next day in selected stores, and H&M and Macy’s will sell them online. The fashions will also be sold at NBCUniversalStore.com, which sells items related to NBC programs.

H&M will sell the items, carrying the Fashion Star label, at HMFashionStar.com, according to information on HM.com. That web site was not yet live this afternoon.

The reality show promotion appears to be the retailer’s first step in launching e-commerce in America.

The Sweden-based retailer’s parent company, Hennes & Mauritz AB, previously announced plans to launch full online retailing in the United States in early 2012, but its latest financial report now says it will start selling online here in the fall. H&M already sells apparel online in Europe. It is No. 67 in Internet Retailer’s Top 400 Europe Guide.

The retailers are able to have the winning fashions available for sale the day following the air date because the reality show was filmed about six months ago. H&M has a history of aligning itself with celebrity spokespeople for fashion lines, such as Madonna and soccer star David Beckham. The Fashion Star program will feature amateur designers who are mentored by celebrity designers (and reality star veterans) Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie and designer John Varvatos.

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