H&M has announced Balmain as its guest designer for 2015, leaning on its “unique style” as well its showbiz and music ties.
The collaborations have become a key event in the retailer’s calendar, with Balmain the latest in a long line of top end designers the high street brand has worked with. The collaboration strategy kicked off in 2004 with Karl Lagerfeld and last year Alexander Wang was brought on board for his “edgy and futuristic” aesthetic.
"We are excited to have Balmain as our guest designer at H&M and create a truly involving experience for everybody,” said Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M. “With its mix of couture spirit and street wear attitude, Balmain owns a unique style, at once opulent and direct, sensual and energetic. It is also closely linked to the show business and music worlds, which adds another element of surprise.”
The collection will not launch until 5 November, and when it does it will only be in around 250 – out of 3,500 – of H&M’s stores globally as well as online. A launch event at the Billboard Music Awards saw Kendall Jenner, star of Keeping up with the Kardashians, and Jourdan Dunn walk the red carpet to reveal the first pieces of the collection.
Jenner posted an image on Twitter linking to H&M and Balmain which went on to receive over 800,000 likes, prompting fans to jump the associated hashtag #HMBalmaination.
The early collaboration hype has highlighted once again the retailer’s ability to create a ‘fear of missing out’ moment and H&M has developed a novel strategy to deal with the hordes of fans who make the pilgrimage to a store which stocks the collection.
In the past consumers have pitched tents in a queue from as early as 4pm the night before where they wait for a colour-coded wristband. They are then let into the store in batches for a certain amount of time, before the next group is brought forward and so on until the collection is sold out, usually within a matter of hours.
H&M’s most successful collaboration to date has been with Isabel Marant in November 2013. Editd – a company which provides real-time analytics for retailers – has analysed the sales and found that its 100 per cent sell out rate despite an average price point 118 per cent higher than H&M’s mainline average. It also found there was a 46 per cent lift in number of products selling out that month, compared to November 2013.
Commenting on why collaboration such as those with H&M are important luxury designers, Olivier Rousteing, creative director at Balmain said: "I want to talk to my generation: this is my main purpose as a designer. H&M allows me the unique possibility of bringing everyone into the world of Balmain […] The collaboration felt extremely natural to me because everybody can connect with the H&M brand. It calls for unity, and I am all for it.”