Drapers’ news editor Catherine Neilan headed down to H&M’s Oxford Circus and Regent Street branches yesterday to see the madness of a new collaboration launch.
H&M has learned plenty about how to manage a limited edition designer collaboration in its time.
As a result yesterday’s Maison Martin Margiela launch was a disciplined affair with colour-coded wristbands doled out to those brave enough to queue up in the cold November morning.
At H&M’s Oxford Circus branch, there were a good couple of hundred people waiting - some of whom hadn’t even got the all-important wristbands, but were still optimistically hoping they would get their hands on the designer goodies inside.
Here’s Lucy and Julia, who started queuing at 1am, looking remarkably fresh-faced and focused on their purchases.
Others who had arrived late had taken a day off work to be able to stay until their time slot came up. Let’s hope their employers aren’t Drapers readers….
As the clock edged towards 9am, the anticipation grew and in the age-old tradition of British queues, the once-neat and orderly line morphed into a bunch of fashion fans ready to hit anyone who jumped in front.
There were of course the chancers who did exactly that but hopefully H&M’s wiley wristband strategy caught them out when they got to the till.
As soon as the doors opened, people were running to get their hands on the clothes first before they sold out. Unfortunately I didn’t have a wristband so no MMM goodies for me (until I got back to the office and ordered online like a sensible person, obviously).
It slightly undermined the whole “10 minutes to shop per person” rule, but I wouldn’t want to be the person at the doors pushing back against that tide.
Once I got inside, I was told H&M weren’t prepared for press to be in store and redirected to the Regent Street branch down the road. Unsurprisingly here they were adhering to the regimented slots rule properly.
The shoppers were warned when they were half way through their slot that they had five minutes of shopping time left, which added to the frenzy, but the fact only 20 people were allowed in at once meant people had space to dash around and buy what they could grab in that time.
Here’s press officer Chloe Bowers talking me through how they were doing it.
So that’s it. Not perhaps H&M’s most commercial collaboration, but still thousands of pounds spent in a matter of minutes thanks to canny marketing, building of anticipation and playing on everyone’s love of a limited collection.