This is what H&M stands for (and no, you’ll never guess it!)

Although you’ve probably passed H&M stores hundreds of times before — and shopped in them a few hundred times, too — have you ever tried to figure out what those initials stand for? Well, Cosmopolitan UK was tired of not knowing and has uncovered the secret behind these hallowed retail initials

OKAY, it’s not really a secret, but we sure didn’t have a clue. Perhaps we never tried to figure out what H&M means, since the company is Swedish and we don’t speak Swedish. But that doesn’t make the meaning any less fascinating.

The “H” actually makes a lot of sense. It stands for “Hennes,” which is Swedish for “Hers.” That’s what the store was originally called when Erling Persson opened the first Hennes shop in Sweden, in 1947, since he only sold women’s clothing at the time.

Now, if you think you know where this is going and that the “M” stands for the Swedish word for “his,” well — not so fast. (And anyway, “his” in Swedish is “hans,” so it doesn’t begin with an “M” anyway.)

The “M” stands for “Mauritz,” and if you throw that in Google Translate, you’ll see that the English translation of that word is the same. That’s because Mauritz is a formal name.

Persson acquired the Swedish hunting apparel and fishing gear company Mauritz Widforss in 1968, and changed the name of his stores from Hennes to Hennes & Mauritz. This is when Persson’s company started selling men’s and children’s apparel, too.

By 1969, Hennes & Mauritz had 42 stores. And in 1974, the name was changed to simply H&M.

Considering the first H&M store in the U.S. didn’t open until 2000 — 26 years after the name change — it makes sense that Americans haven’t really thought about the origin of the name. But we’re grateful to Cosmo for teaching us this history lesson about one of our favorite affordable fashion stores. And if you want to know even more about H&M, the company has documented its long history on its website for all of you curious H&M fans out there.

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