So I can finally say that I attended one of the H&M collaboration launch. Last Wednesday, November 5, 2015 as the clock striked five I dashed my little butt out the office to catch the subway as quickly as possible. Toronto was only given three locations to choose from that carried the Balmain x H&M collection. I first called the location closest to work and I was told that people started lining up around 6:00am. I knew I could not chance it so I decided to visit the location closest to home, which is located inside Yorkdale mall just north of downtown Toronto. I didn’t have much time to waste when I got home so I just quickly changed into something comfortable and that showed off my personal style because in my mind you just never know, Olivier Rousteing may very well show up. I mean, a girl can dream right!
I arrived in line at 6:45pm and the line was reasonable for the time it was. Right away I put my bags down, set-up my chair and started chatting up the people ahead of me. Not too long after the line started to grow and the person behind me happened to be a friend of a friend so it was good to have a familiar face too. After surviving just over seven hours – getting up ever so often to stretch my legs, warm up in the mall lobby entrance, Snapchatting, snacking on lunchables, chatting with new friends, at 2:00am the H&M security came outside and started to hand out numbers. You would think this was a very simple process, but everyone in line got a bit anxious and started to walk towards the front of the line hoping to snag a number closer to the front. The security guards not knowing who was standing where in line just started to hand out numbers to those closest to them. This obviously started to infuriate a lot of people in line (including myself) as those at the back of the line somehow made their way to the front to obtain a number closer to the front. Finally both the H&M security and the mall security got the crowd under control and the numbers were dished out accordingly – with the exception of those who snuck up to the front to obtain a closer number. I’m pretty sure I would have been at a much closer number to the front, but I ended up with a reasonable number at 191 in line. Quite frankly the security guards could have cared less about this entire ordeal as this was not their highest of priorities to hand out tickets to people standing in line to buy clothes.
After another four hours passed, both the H&M security guards and the H&M staff came outside to hand out the bracelets to those who held a number in line. As one of the first 420 shoppers in line we were given a coloured bracelet; there were 14 colours with one for each group of 30 people. This process took another hour and then we were finally let inside the mall where we formed another line in front of the store. My group was given an orange bracelet which had the Balmain x HM stamp in black ink on it. Underneath that was written in black permanent marker our time slot of 9:30am-9:40am. This was definitely the most exciting time in line as we all felt a sigh of relief that it was finally confirmed that we will be shopping the collection. We anxiously watch at 8:00am as the doors opened and the first group of shoppers were let in. Our time slot made us the 9th group in line to shop between 9:30am and 9:40am. H&M did not let everyone in the store at once, for obvious reasons. Not only were there a line in front of the store, but there was also another line formed inside the store just before the section where the collection were displayed. This was where the next group were waiting their turn while the group in front shopped the collection. We had only ten minutes to shop the collection so you can imagine the anxiety and excitement building up. In that ten minutes period we were only allowed to purchase two of each style per customer. Our group was pretty calm for the most part though and we actually talked it out in line to get a sense of what everyone wanted to buy.
When it was our turn at about 9:20am, as we were walking in the store to line up, it was announced that the mens collection was sold out. One male shopper in our group immediately started to curse outloud and stormed out of the store, girlfriend left behind. At about 9:30am we finally passed the ropes to shop the collection; there was almost nothing left, a lot of the items on the floor were ones being returned from the changeroom. Blazers, dresses, shoes and the t-shirts were all sold out, with the exception of a few blazers being returned to the floor from the changeroom. Surprisingly there were about eight of the red draped silk skirts remaining on the rack. A lot of the ribbed bandeau tops remained and a few other tops as well. For me, as time past by in line I knew I had to make a plan B for the items I will buy because the t-shirts and blazers being hot items sold out almost immediately. I was actually surprised that the polo-neck jumper was still available so I immediately grabbed that off the rack in sizes 2 and 8. There was one of the suit trousers in silk satin remaining in a size 6, but it was not my size but I grabbed it anyways because I knew the sizes fit a bit smaller. Luckily while I was waiting in line for a changeroom a staff was walking by with the suit trousers and it happened to be my size so I switched it with the one I had in my hand. I also brought with me the drapped skirt in sizes 2 and 4 and the shirt jacket in size 8, so six items in total. The changeroom area was really a panic zone, shoppers yelling at each other for sizes, staff yelling at shoppers to stop switching items as they must be returned on the floor for the next group. At that point there was just no time for me to panic. I just wanted to get in, try on what I had and get out! I quickly tried my items on and the polo-neck jumper fit perfectly in a size 2, while the suit trousers fit nicely in a size 4. Even if my items did not fit I knew I had the option to receive a full refund by November 8th or a store credit after that date.
After leaving the changeroom I headed to the checkout upstairs and witnessed one of the girls in my group breaking down because she did not get the blazer she wanted. Oddly enough while this was happening her girlfriend was cashing out with two blazers. I felt her pain. Even though I did not get any of the t-shirts I’m pretty satisfied with my purchases. I never had any intentions of spending a ridiculous amount of money so spending just over $200 is a score for me. I also wanted to purchase pieces I know I can wear more than once and mix and match with what I already have in my closet. I felt like I accomplished a goal and another item crossed off my bucket list.
This entire experience also had me thinking, when you don’t have access to things before the masses or given free stuff, you have to go out and get it yourself. We live in a social media world where it’s cool to announce and (humble) brag about receiving free stuff and getting access to things before the masses. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people who do this are getting paid and it is their income, so it is a job for them. The problem is we forget what it is like to work for what we want, it’s become much easier for us to befriend those in power to gain access to the things we want. It’s no longer cool to get excited to line up for a big event launch or to meet your favourite music artist etc. anymore. People will spend all the time in the world trying to figure out who they need to know to attend a certain event or gain access to product private viewings. Rather than actually going out there and wait in line to pay for the product.
I also want to touch on the social uproar from people talking crap about shoppers (myself included) who stood in line for hours. As crazy as it may sound to stand in line for over 14 hours to buy clothes, it really just comes down to being ‘different strokes for different folks’. Everyone has their thing and if standing in line to buy clothes is someone else’s thing, let that be their thing. My question is why does it bother people so much that someone else is willing to do something that they will never do? I mean, people wait in line for Jordans, iphones and video games so it’s totally okay right! – laughing out loud. But, it’s safe to say that this has been H&M’s most controversial, most talked about and possibly the most successful collaboration to date (waiting for the numbers to come in). Go Olivier!
Sending virtual high fives to those who still tough it out in lines for shopping events and music artists. If you also stood in line for hours just to even purchase a toque, I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell me about your experience at the Balmain x H&M launch event and what you purchased.
Now get style inspired and see two looks I styled with the pieces I purchased from the Balmain x H&M collection.
Photography by Shantel Rousseau