H&M has been doing successful collaborations with high-end designers for more than ten years. Starting off in 2004 with Karl Lagerfeld, the high-street giant’s works with the fashion industry’s biggest names never failed to impress. This year, H&M announced that the next exclusive collection will be with ERDEM, collaborating with a London-based designer for the first time in eight years.
Erdem Moralioglu designed his first ever menswear collection for the collaboration, and he aims for the garments to pass between genders, stating, “I’m so happy with it, and I think so many women are going to love the men’s collection too.” The collection will also include slightly more casual pieces like a hoodie and a nylon rucksack priced at £49.99, but the main competition will be for the limited number of high-priced pieces like the snowdrop ballgown retailing for £119.99.
Courtesy of Vogue
So far, the Swedish retail giant has teamed up with big name labels such as Balmain, Versace, Lanvin, Alexander Wang and much more with growing success. These collaborations were highly innovative in the way they were able to bring together luxury and the mass market. Joining forces leveraged both sides in all these examples, as H&M was able to boost sales and publicity while the high-end brands had the chance of appealing to a broader customer range.
In 2015, some garments from the Balmain x H&M collection were resold at 10 times their original price on eBay, which made them almost as expensive as any other Balmain product. The Versace collaboration also created a lot of buzz to the point where H&M implemented a wristband system that allowed each customer 10 minutes of shopping time.
Courtesy of H&M
Despite the collaborations being mostly successful, there are some that did not sell out and end up heavily discounted. This leads us to think that sales are actually not the main focus of such collaborations. Dhani Mau, Associate Editor ofwrote “Sales of Ms. Versace’s collection for H&M, will barely have an effect on the retailers’ overall sales volumes. In fact, their success is not measured in dollars, but in overall media impressions.” So although there is an increase in sales, it isn’t nearly as important as the media exposure both the brands gain.
Creating and advertising a new clothing line may seem like an expensive way to advertise, but the takeaway is generally worth it. Designers, especially up and coming ones, benefit from the publicity the mass-market retailer can bring, which is normally much more than their advertising budget. Also, creative directors are payed larger sums to collaborate, up to 1 million dollars according to some rumours. H&M also gains media impressions and has the benefit of baiting customers to its online and retail stores, therefore having the chance to sell them other things and increasing their sales.
Courtesy of H&M
Looking at these collaborations from the customers point of view, the buyers are distributed among regular customers of the luxury brand, or of H&M. The items, although resulting from the creative genius of world-famous designers, are still fast fashion quality pieces, just priced at a higher point. But this fact does not push the frequent customer of designers away, and the stigma of mainstream collections is long gone. The Guardian addressed this, writing: These collections are “taken home by fashion editors, style insiders and those who are able and willing to pay over the odds for a cheaper item, finding its value in its exclusivity.”
Courtesy of Vogue
So when the new H&M x Erdem collaboration hits stores on November 2, will you be first in line despite the possibility of them simply being a marketing strategy? Looking at the characteristically feminine beauty of the pieces in the collection, if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d say that it’s worth it.