Just as Rei Kawakubo’s masstige collection for Comme des Garcons debuts at 20 select H&M stores (with more to roll-out in November) in a Rei-designed red, pie-shaped mini-store within the H&M stores, Label Networks takes a look at the fast-fashion retailer, where they rank in terms of preferences, and why -all from the perspective of a new generation of consumers in Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and the United States.

Like American Apparel in the United States and Uniqlo from Japan, H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) from Sweden has almost single-handedly created the concept of fast-fashion, a.k.a. disposable fashion trends. While prices are not quite as inexpensive in some select stores and for some collections these days, the store chain of 1,500 is known for producing new styles quickly and offering them up to consumers at affordable prices (from $5.99 to $69.99).

In just a few short years, the European retailer has dominated the marketplace in Europe, opened 149 stores in the United States (with 8 in Manhattan alone), and in the past year, purchased the Stockholm-based denim brand Cheap Monday, launched a women’s store in Saudi Arabia, had profits climbing 18% in the first quarter, and had hundreds of people wrapped around the block in anticipation of their 1st southeast store opening in Atlanta last month.

Known for collaborating with top designers and celebs, ranging from their Madonna to Stella McCartney, and Viktor & Rolf, H&M was also one of the first big-box retailers to pop-up avatars and virtual stores and shopping experiences (along with American Apparel) using EA’s “Second Life” and The Sims 2. They’ve pushed the envelope on what it means to be a “favorite” store named as a favorite “brand” when it comes to today’s youth culture marketplace of 13-25-year-olds across Europe and the United States.

Now, with their new collaborative collection and pop-up shop with Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo, H&M is poised to crossover once again into borderline couture, limited-edition direction, and yet are still maintain cred with the bulk of their consumers with fast-fashion styles at affordable prices. It’s the kind of crossover success that most brands dream of and only a handful have done well, such as Apple Computer, American Apparel, Volcom to some extent, and perhaps Nike is you don’t count all of their mistakes launching into the skateboarding-inspired marketplace.

In this story, we take an in-depth look at the consumer research data and trends collected over the past 4 years from Label Networks’ European and North American Youth Culture Studies, including latest data results from the Spring Youth Culture Report 2008 which indicate how the youth market perceives H&M and why, providing a great resource and indicator of how others may play out their own success story.