H&M x Balmain causes hysteria

Co-branding triggers a certain appeal that causes H&M collaborations to sell out within hours. Balmain’s collaboration with H&M was so successful that it caused in-store and online panic.

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Fashionista’s from all over the world caused some real hysteria in H&M shops on November 5, 2015. The night before the big launch of the H&M x Balmain collection was when the commotion started. From Amsterdam to New York, fashion enthusiast were camping outside of the H&M shops, first in line to hysterically run into the stores and get their hands on the exclusive items. Videos of frenzied customers in H&M stores were posted online within minutes. What makes this collection so appealing to the masses?

According to the Telegraph, Balmain was H&M’s most successful designer collaboration. “The interest for this launch has exceeded all previous collaborations, both in-store and online”, a spokesman for H&M, Hacan Andersson, told Bloomberg. The collection consists out of 40 items for women and 30 items for men. There are items that go for more than $500, but you can still get some items for less than $100. It’s not the first time H&M surpass their usual prices, but it’s also definitely not one of H&M’s cheapest collaborations. H&M’s first collaboration was with Karl Lagerfeld in 2004, and they have collaborated with high end brands many times after, such as Alexander Wang, Isabel Marant, Jimmy Choo, Lanvin and Marni.

The H&M x Balmain items are like candy to our eyes. The streamlined shapes and fittings are aesthetically pleasing, whilst the colors and gold details make the pieces catch our attention. Balmain’s designer, Olivier Rousteing, wanted the collection to remain true to Balmain’s main line. “Every fitting, tailoring, everything has to look exactly like my vision,” Rousteing mentions in a promotional H&M video. Much like in MTV’s articles, a lot of people assume that H&M’s collaboration items are made out of cheaper fabric and construction, enabling such low prices for high-end brand items. However, many of the collaboration’s items are similar in looks to Balmain’s runway collections, which is great news for fashion lovers that can’t afford Balmain’s main line items.

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Having Balmain’s name tagged on an H&M clothing piece causes the brand value to go up. Customers are still very much attracted to the names of big brands, and you don’t have to be a regular H&M visitor to be intrigued by their collaboration with Balmain. A low-end brand collaborating with a high-end brand broadens the target audience. Both rich and poor have indulged in the collaboration’s items. Balmain’s look and name are also connected to celebrities such as the Kardashians. Kendall Jenner modeled for the collaboration’s campaign, and this might have sparked the interest in the collaboration even more. Of course, this has a positive outcome for both H&M’s and Balmain’s popularity and revenue. Working class people, who would have never purchased a main line item from Balmain, will become more familiar with this high-end brand and its prices. This “massluxe” offers them “massclusivity”, as claimed by Josephine Wettergren. On the other hand, people from a higher social class with a love for luxury now know they can turn to H&M for high-end items as well, causing a spur in H&M’s popularity and revenue income.

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As always, price plays a big part in making a purchase.  This is not H&M’s cheapest collaboration, as mentioned before. The prices range from $15 to $700, showing H&M’s effort to keep a balance between the prices as to gain the interest of both their regular customers and the uncommon higher social class. However, the items priced $100 or less consists mostly out of accessories or basics, which leaves some customers quite unhappy. They claim the key items of the collection are too expensive for “regular people”, and it is aimed to attract people from a high social class for H&M to profit from. On the other hand, there are many others that appreciate the prices, as they would never be able to buy an authentic Balmain clothing item for such a low price. I questioned a fashion enthusiast, named Charles, on the price tags on H&M x Balmain’s items. “I personally think it’s a real bargain,” Charles told me. “You can get a clothing piece that looks exactly like one you can find in Balmain’s previous runway collection. In a way I think that’s unfortunate because it is not something new or amazingly breathtaking to me. But it is way cheaper than getting an actual Balmain piece.” He continues, “At the same time, you always wonder how such low prices are achieved and I think they probably used different fabrics. It’s not something that bothers me much though. If you want the Balmain look at a lower price, go for it. That’s my recommendation.” Charles made another interesting comment that relates to one of my earlier statements. “Ever since the rise of the Kardashians, they have continuously been dressed in Balmain. This made the demand for the Balmain look very high, and I think that’s why even the most expensive items of the H&M x Balmain collaboration sold out like hot cakes.”

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The H&M x Balmain collaboration’s success not only depended on the aesthetics, brand value and prices, but on popular demand as well. If you have always wanted the Balmain look for a softer price, this was your chance. Didn’t get your hands on any of the items from the H&M x Balmain collection? You can still give it a shot on eBay. Unfortunately, most items are being resold for more than double of the original prices. As GQ, MTV and The Telegraph mention, if you’re considering paying $3,000 for one of the collection’s jacket on eBay, you might as well get the real thing instead. At these resell prices you can buy real Balmain items that are probably made out of better materials and construction. Most importantly, you won’t have to risk your life for it.

By Joanna Mersel
09-12-2015

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