E V E N T || hmxbalmaination
5th November 2015, 06:30, I found myself queuing [yes, queuing like a true Brit] outside H&M's flagship store on Regent Street. Yep, for-one-morning-only I was one of those people. "Don't these people have jobs to go to?" I heard several times as commuters walked past [apparently the concept of taking annual leave isn't acceptable]. Ironically, I was and probably still am one of these judge-y passerbys. At one point, I did start to wonder why I wasn't in the comfort of my flat "queuing" online - or is that worse?! Who knows. All I know is if you're a fashun-bunny, this once-a-year date marked a pretty significant day in the calendar - a fashion house bringing out great quality design at high street prices. Too good to be true and why wouldn't we all try to get our hands on it? Sadly for us, the queuing was in vain because due to extremely poor organisation and hangry [hungry/angry] consumers, the Gold Gates of Fashun would not open for us this particular time.
Read on for my experience and what I would have hunted for [i.e. what all the fuss was about.]
why on earth. //
A question that kept popping up in my head and apparently all passerbys minds. Pal Lara and her mum have been coming to H&M designer collaborations for the last seven years. When I asked why they did it, there were two clear answers - 1] the clothes are beautiful, of great quality and at affordable prices - you get the designer experience without having to sell your house to get it. & 2] it can be a great money maker - selling off some of the goods online afterwards can generate money-money. To do this, you'd just have to sacrifice some sleep, annual leave and a morning to queue and grab.
how it works. //
Queue & Grab is the best description I have of it. We arrived around 6/6.30am but in H&M collaboration standards that's actually not that hardcore. I heard that some people had been there since 3pm the day before, sitting, sleeping, eating outside the entrance to the store. I can't describe the smell that hit me as I walked past the "front" of the queue - there was rubbish everywhere, you'd have hardly guessed that these people were queuing for designer goods.
What it worth it? Yes, but H&M need to get their organisational act together or find a better system like a raffle with access to the collection as the prize. Most people in the queue were there because they were passionate about fashion and the buzz is genuinely exciting. Others had clearly only come to swipe and sell the goods [major hustling]. I also wanted to attend at least once so I knew what it was like and also as a thank you to Lara and her mum who'd always pick something up for me in previous collaborations. The only two things I didn't enjoy was 1] the number of photographers and videos capturing the queues as if we were animals in some kind of weird zoo & 2] the mess of those who'd stayed overnight had left. The final painful point was watching those who'd queued at other H&M stores walking past with their swag!
on the hunt for. //
So what was all the fuss about? Of all the collaborations H&M have done, this particular collection stood out - pulled together by the young and extremely talented French fashion designer Olivier Rousteing, the current Creative Director at Balmain. What is Balmain? I hear you ask. Well that's exactly the point, Balmain is a pretty established French couture house which most people have probably never heard of… until the appointment of Olivier. His fresh take on fashion has completely revived the brand and it is now one of the hottest design houses of the #fashun world. Getting a piece of Rousteing's creations is a bit like owning a piece of gold in the world of fashion, and that's why I decided to brace the above.
To bring you a bit closer to my craziness, below was my hitlist / wishlist.
is it really for the customer? //
On the face of it, it would seem collaborations are for the everyday customer - bringing designer to the high street. However, for me it brings up questions about how customer-centric these offerings really are and who actually benefits from the frenzy. Why do we queue for launches [H&M, Apple, etc.]? What does the customer gain from the experience? How does the frenzy benefit the brands involved? After a lengthy discussion with Diane about it, I've decided that our consumerist society not only feeds our want for goods, but also the media's want for great stories and the brand involved's want for visibility. I came away from this experience time wasted and no goods to show for it. The media came away with a crazy story about fashion obsessed people fighting over each other. And the brand, well, as the old saying goes any publicity is good publicity because now at least one more person knows about Balmain. Two out of three ain't bad though right?!
Would you ever join the fashion frenzy? Were you there? How did you find the experience?