By: Esther Lee
Photos by: Charlotte Jones
On November 5, 2015, H&M proved yet again just how – unsurprisingly – successful and lucrative their designer-retailer collaborations can be.
Balmain and H&M’s joint venture this year was a colossal hit in stores, and had eager customers camping out nights in advance for the opportunity to buy the limited edition pieces. Not only were the items extremely marked up in comparison to normal H&M pieces, but the anticipated collaboration was exclusively available in only select stores. Fortunately for us (but not our wallets), Georgetown’s H&M on M Street made the cut!
The blocks of M were lined with customers, all of them determined to be part of the lucky 420 few that were allowed in to shop the collection. The line in front of Georgetown’s particular H&M was so incredible that it even sparked the creation of a special thread on Reddit.
When asked what in particular shoppers were looking forward to, many expressed a respect and appreciation for the designer brand. “Balmain is a high-end brand, so I just wanted to participate,” said shopper Song, who arrived at 7pm the previous night to wait in line for the collaboration.
However, despite his early arrival, Song was not able to get his hands on any of the men’s pieces. “Basically none of it was left,” Song explained to Thirty Seventh. “[The men’s clothing] sold out within twenty minutes.”
While many meticulously planned their overnight shopping stakeouts, other shoppers had more spontaneous ties to the collection. Said local Samantha: “I didn’t even know this was happening. I live, like, right across the street, and I was walking home last night at about midnight and I met this woman from Sweden whose sister’s the Creative Director for H&M Sweden, where I had been before. So we got into this long conversation about it all.”
Rather than waiting on the line overnight, Samantha utilized another strategy: “What I did to get [these clothes] – actually, I was one of the last people here, but instead of waiting in line to view the collection, I went into the dressing room and took pieces [others had disregarded] and then bought those.”
Many customers were desperate to rock the collection as soon as possible, but some had other plans for their pieces. Shopper Inno planned to buy as many items as possible and then profit later by reselling at higher prices. “I got a lot of hand bags and accessories I plan on reselling,” he confessed. “I also got a women’s vested suit which actually looks good on me because it’s really big, so I might just wear it myself!” Inno explained his plans to travel to Brazil and Japan in the week following, where he planned to sell the collection’s coveted pieces, as well as its signature shopping bags: “I might sell the [shopping bags], for like $20.00 on eBay. In person I can sell them for like $40.00.” Inno was definitely not the only shopper at the Balmain x H&M collection’s release who planned on making money on the resale. In fact, Techinsider gave a complete reseller’s lowdown later that day.
Balmain x H&M proved to be equally as successful as the brand’s prior designer collaborations – like the extremely popular Alexander Wang x H&M collab – thanks to their fantastic marketing campaigns, which rely heavily on celebrity hype and tactical use of social media. The marketing campaign for Balmain x H&M built up the anticipation for the designer collaboration by highlighting their powerhouse picks of high-profile models to represent the collection, with names like Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Jourdan Dunn, Hao Yun Xiang and Dudley O’Shaughnessy, who appeared in from Rihanna’s We Found Love music video.
Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s Creative Director, told UK’s Independent: “When you love the Balmain world, you love the models that are part of it too. Kendall, Gigi and Jourdan are my friends, and they are the perfect choice to star in the Balmain x H&M campaign. Love them.”
The age of social media has brought with it an entirely new dynamic for fashion marketing, especially when it comes to high street brands like H&M—and with Balmain x H&M proving so successful, we can’t wait to see what big collaboration they’ll plan next.