The highly anticipated, highly promoted release of Balmain x H&M featuring designs by Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing occurred this past Thursday, Nov. 5 at 8 a.m. To many a consumer’s displeasure, by noon that same day the only item left on sale was a tiny, simple, white bandeau. So what’s the deal?
Dedicated shoppers lined up for hours (and in some cases, days) outside of the various H&M stores lucky enough to carry the collection. Masses of people, men and women alike, waiting for those clear doors to open. Once they did, chaos basically ensued — on-lookers videotaped the craziness of shoppers storming the racks. Comparable to a Best Buy on Black Friday, these H&M stores were completely run-through only minutes after the crowds stampeded. Online, the situation was far worse. The website was so flooded with volume that it completely crashed, and to shoppers’ disappointment, once it did go back online, all the items were gone. Sold out. Poof. Vanished. So, why all the hype? We chalk it up to two simple reasons.
The first reason for the unprecedented success was the campaign itself — what many would call a genius fashion marketing campaign. If you have a social media account, the ads for this collection were everywhere. Not to mention putting Kendall Jenner’s face on anything at this point turns said item into coveted gold. But to use her face, name and brand alone wouldn’t have made this big of an impact. However, throwing in Gigi Hadid along with Jourdan Dunn was what added to the success of it all. But still bear with us, because that wasn’t what made it stand out. It was the entire production of the campaign. Lashy, high-fashion and constantly in your face — from a music video as edgy as the line itself, to a launch party so highly publicized by Kendall, Gigi and Jourdan themselves, to the sheer amount of star power at that launch party (Kylie Jenner, Ellie Goulding, Cameron Russell, among others), this campaign was buzzed about since May 2015. Given the six months of unmatched anticipation for this line to drop, can’t say I’m too surprised about the lack of hangers on the shelves.
The second reason for such sold-out success is sheer quality product — the entirety of the line itself was fabulous. Yes, we established that Kendall Jenner could sell essentially anything. But had these looks not been as great as they truly are, there’d be no reason for fans to line up. Rather, they’d simply look online at the pretty pictures of Kendall and Gigi walking hand in hand down the red carpet at the release, which at this point is the only thing most consumers (including myself) can do with the line. Each piece encompasses the signature design, fit and look of Balmain as a brand, taken to new heights by Rousteing.
The pieces aren’t for those looking for simple cocktail attire. From huge pops of bright color to decadent patterns to colorful faux leather and decadent fur jackets, each piece is bolder and more dauntless than the last. Clearly resolute in every piece from the collection, Oliver Rousteing does a fantastic job of making the line effortlessly edgy from head to toe. Encompassing the trademark black and gold silhouettes that Balmain is coveted for, Rousteing is not afraid to put a twist on these designs, made for the modern and high fashion woman.
While the collection itself is worth the hype surrounding it, it would seem that this collaboration between high fashion and mass produced retail, between Balmain and H&M, is anything but for the masses.
That being said, my hesitation with this line is the pricing. Yes, this is Balmain, but this is also being sold at H&M — a retailer for the average person. When people shop at H&M, their intention is not to drop $500 on a cardigan. Collaborations between a top tier designer and a retail store like H&M are created to provide an affordable way for us “average peasants,” we non-Kardashians to wear designer-quality clothing. Clearly H&M is missing the point here. In the past, H&M has done collaborations with huge names. The list is endless and quite impressive: Stella McCartney, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Beyoncé, David Beckham, Karl Lagerfeld and so on.
So it would seem everyone who is anyone in fashion, style and pop-culture has collaborated with H&M. Yet in each of these lines, I saw prices that soared above $400. Clearly H&M knows they can profit on these lines. Unfortunately for us, the “average” consumers, we may just have to be content with looking at these designs from afar, because it would seem that apparently the prices are not going to change any time soon.