Last November 5th, Balmain for H&M collection was launched in Villagio Mall, Qatar with an overwhelming response. Despite being empty handed, the experience was worth the ride. It was also nice to meet new friends, and old friends whom I haven’t seen for such a long time!
What to know
H&M annually collaborates with high end luxury designers or labels to push the brand’s commercial status on both the high end and affordable retail market. This collaboration consists of garments and(or) accessories, and are limited edition. H&M has collaborated with designers and labels such as KARL LAGERFELD, VERSACE, LANVIN, ANNA DELLO RUSSO, ISABEL MARANT, MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, ALEXANDER WANG in the past.
How it is supposed to be…
- Retail: In retail, once the queue starts, one will receive a bracelet or card with an specific limited time to view and shop in the span of 5 minutes. Before going in, one must know what to purchase.
- Online shopping on Official website: Online shopping is pretty much the same, except the fact that you have to wait on your computer or PC.
Each person is only limited to one piece per item.
(But I doubt these will be followed in the Gulf!)
The night before
As soon as I knew about the event, I was informed that the store officially opens at 8 A.M., meaning the queue will start by 7 A.M. But, thanks to their Fb page notice, the queue time was changed to 6 A.M.! So I informed my pregnant fashion blogger friend, Karen Nicolet of http://www.clumsychic.com. She was surprised as she was planning to go by 9 A.M.! This means, we will have very little sleep!
What I was rooting for
I have been wanting the embellished pearl long jacket. Quite similar to the actual Balmain Faberge collection that my favorite icon Gwen Stefani wore. I also had my rebound in case it rans out, and that was the velvet baroque top which Skin of Skunk Anansie was seen sporting on the H&M launch.
Upon knowing the queuing line starts at 6 A.M. as the official H&M store open exclusively by 8 A.M., I tried my best to arrive there as early as possible. When I got there, the parking lots were full! I knew it was trouble. And when I got inside, omg! The queue was so long it will reach gate 2! Aside of being with my pregnant fashion blogger friend, Karen, an hour later, makeup artist Liezel Reyes accompanied me. Qatari Fashion label THE KAYYS, makeup/hair artist Aboudy, vintage jewelry collector Sh. Raya Al-Khalifa and her mom Sh. Wanda also made an appearance.
What we didn’t know
There was already a private viewing earlier exclusively for VIPs and media. Some VIP people bought in their RVs. Others watched a movie by 12 A.M, had midnight meal and proceeded on the line (which means they have planned to do this all along). The nannies and private drivers also made their queuing. Students skipped classes, pregnant women were there, emergency leave for those who have work, people who flew all the way to Qatar for the said event, rules were not followed, people forgot safety, women getting hurt, queues were over-ridden… All happened before 6 A.M! Too good that there was Paul restaurant nearby and there were chairs for my pregnant friend! I was willing enough to purchase her stuff in case of anything. I was standing in front of River Island and posted it in Instagram. Vvip people I knew were willing to let me be part of their line in the front area, but I hesitated as I knew arabs won’t be happy if expats override their queues. And either if I did accept the offer, it will still be chaotic.
Even if there were lots of stock available, the overwhelming amount of people as response to this much hyped collaboration is insane. Thus, will never be enough, especially for the Middle East as the Gulf region are well-known high fashion shoppers and luxury enthusiasts. People are disappointed for being empty-handed despite the efforts. Also, not all pieces were available. Menswear were not available. Just by looking at the mannequins, the beaded long jacket wasn’t available, and the black velvet baroque blouse and trousers. And I came only for that. My friend Karen came for the shirts and the black and gold buttoned blazer which was displayed on the mannequin but all were sold out. Liezel was rooting for the black Balmain t-shirt and the buckled leather jacket but it wasn’t available. No, the ones on the mannequins are not for sale! LITERALLY SOLD OUT IN SECONDS!
The H&M gates were closed by 8:55 A.M. because of the negative commotion happening. From cat fights, abaya pulling, people almost getting spilled with hot coffee…all of those I witnessed in front of me.
Why the hype?
Not so cheap for H&M, but not as expensive as the actual Balmain either. With French fashion house Balmain and creative director Olivier Rousteing‘s recent announcement for his position with the brand, fashion world has been fully aware of Balmain‘s creativity and being worn by celebrities. Olivier‘s creativity also brought new aspects to the brand, adding a bit of an Asian touch to their French aesthetic, as well as more focus not only on womens clothing and intricate pieces, but to mens garments as well. The visually creative campaign for the said collection being advertised massively in social media, advertisements, billboards, and fashion magazines also contributed to it.
Other information you need to know
- Balmain x H&M launch around the world was a success that it finished in seconds as well.
- Balmain x H&M launch queuing varies from different countries. In Singapore, people were literally bringing in their camping tents. In South Korea, people bought in their camping beds and were in their queue for 2 days!
- Balmain x H&M launch offered private viewing event, fashion show, and shopping experience for celebrities in the Philippines, Lebanon, U.S.A, U.K, and South Korea. Unlike in Middle East, all has to be in same day due to the specific rules and regulations.
- No, there will be no relaunch and re-stocks of the said collection.
- The garments and accessories are not as high quality as the actual pieces. But they are good enough to add some statement on one’s wardrobe.
- The ones displayed on the mannequin are not for sale on the same day. Some cases, it is already bought but are on display until the quarter merchandise display finishes it’s month. Or it is only allowed for purchase after the merchandise display month is finished.
- With limited timing on purchase, there will be possible returns in the future. If you are lucky, you might see one lurking around the shop! Or if you have your name listed on H&M‘s list, they might give you a call!
- Other buyers are re-sellers. Be it in Ebay, Instagram, or personal shoppers, these re-sellers auction what they have purchased from the collection and bids are going up as much as the actual prices of the label! Or even more!
- The said collection is limited in quantity to attain it’s exclusiveness.
I was a bit disappointed that my efforts were not worth it. Honestly bitter when I see people with their black and gold paper bags. Lol! Same experience happened to me on the Alexander Wang x H&M. People might not get my enthusiast for fashion, but I do love fashion designers and one of them happens to be Balmain because of their craftsmanship and detailing on garments. So for next new collection, pretty much sure that I will consider making a much earlier entrance and play with my luck…again! I also posted view videos on my I.G. artofdebimendezbilae IG. Proceeded the day with our breakfast and when on with further activities. To my desperation, I tried to recheck every hour for left overs. But nothing was left. Some familiar friends that I saw were willing to give me stuff that they bought but I hesitated. Others just bought some stuff to flaunt to their friends that they got something from the collection even if they aren’t really into the items that they purchased.
In events like this, I just wish that they didn’t invite people when they know that people will get hurt. Or at least do the event 2 days and provide a bit more in stock-lists.
For the love of Balmain and Olivier Rousteing, no pun’s intended on this post.
How wild was your experience?
(photos were mostly taken by me. some photos are taken from Liezel Reyes. celebrity and runway photos are grabbed from GOOGLE.COM.)