But I would do it again depending on the designer!
H&M, your favorite Swedish-based label, has released an annual capsule collection with a high-end designer every year since 2004. For most of these special occasions, I never had the chance, or sacrificed my sleep, to get the items I would’ve liked in my wardrobe. When the Stella McCartney collection came to Boston’s Downtown Crossing H&M location, I was mortified that by the time I went after my college courses ended that day, all that was hanging on the rack was a peony colored shirt with “Stella” written out in sprinkle dots. I bought it to only somehow soothe that fact that “sold-out” had bereaved me of owning something cuter. But the pattern would continue with every collection then on I wasinterested in. Lanvin. Victor & Rolf. Roberto Cavalli. I got nothing. I still can’t sleep at night knowing Versace did my dream granted collaboration and I didn’t get shit. Only Margiela I was able to snag some dope leggings (that I still love and get asked where I got them from. That capsule was undeservedly underrated). But their candy wrapper clutch? Oooo, do you haunt me. Where are you now?
This year when it announced Balmain would be the newest fashion house to get their H&M on, I told myself I was getting something. Or let me inscribe how I truly said it to myself: “I’m not playing with these hoes this year.” I am a huge fan of the brand, Olivier Rousteing, its current creative director, and I approved of the red drapey, wrap-around skirt and gold buttoned navy top ensemble Jourdan Dunn had on and the slightly remixed version of the studded blazer Gwen Stefani wore at the American Music Awards, later again modeled by Kendall Jenner, as both top models arrived at the Billboard Music Awards this year to commence the excitement. Nah, I was getting some Balmain x H&M come November 5.
On the eve of #HMBALMAINATION, I had moments of anxiety in that I knew I would have to camp outside the store to get my dream items. That’s right. Stand outside for hours until 8am. How was I going to do this? I was working a 9-5 job, so I was in a conundrum. It would be ideal to be one of the first fifteen in line so I could be in and out and on my way to work like a G. But that so did not happen.
When I left work during the afternoon of November 4, I had passed by H&M in downtown out of curiosity and saw that two kids were already sitting outside! I knew the pressure was on. I was tempted to drop my own kitty down low and wait with them, but I wanted to go home instead for a bit and get some food and change my clothes. And it was only 5:30! I really didn’t want to wait from that time onward. Decisions, decisions!
So I went home, and can you believe I actually shampoo’ed my hair on all days to do it! But I had time (so I thought) and I ate and packed some food, showered and headed out around 10:30PM. As I got on the train I had to choose between downtown and Newbury Steet, the other H&M location. I knew that Newbury would have lesser people, but downtown was closer to my where I was working. I was in a tight spot. I chose Newbury as I felt I had a higher chance of getting in and out.
The waiting game officially began after 11:00PM and I couldn’t believe I was doing this. Camping out…for clothes! Waaa! I had previously made fun of others for doing this, like when I saw people in New York stand outside Foot Locker for Jordans. But I really wanted something this time and I knew what it would take. If I only had this much tenacity for other things!
By 2:00AM, it was cold and windy outside. I was cramped in a corner of one of two hideaways on the side of H&M’s building, desperate to keep warm and be as comfortable as possible. Again, I was kicking myself for not being a grown up here. Standing outside for Balmain! I hope Olivier appreciates this! I felt like a damn tool!
I even debated either going downtown to see if I the two kids I saw earlier would let me stand with me if I paid them, or to just straight up go back home. I missed my bed. What was I standing outside for?
As I literally stood up and placed my backpack on, an H&M employee begun fixing the ropes to entice some orderly conduct. I got perked up that I was almost there. I sat back down and tried to make the most out of my spot. Let’s do this.
But damn. If this is what it feels like to be homeless every night, God have mercy on the needy. Because that night was enough for me. And I wasn’t even waiting for something substantial like food or shelter.
Come 6:00AM, I felt like I made it through some Arabian desert. I was almost home! Two more hours in this bitch! Give me my bracelet for entry already! With daybreak, I got anxious all over again. I had to get something I wanted. (And I had to pee).
Nearby breakfast spot Pret in the meantime offered us pumpkin lattes and chocolate chip bits. Thanks!
My yellow bracelet confirmed that I would be a part of the third group to purchase the collection. That was all good until I noticed we wouldn’t go in until 9:00-9:05AM. WHET THE FAK! Some of us had to go to work! I was trapped again. According to my calculations, I was going to get in by 8:30AM and be out by 8:45-8:50. I would’ve still been late, but at least not by an hour. Dammit. They had even expanded the browsing and shopping time from fifteen minutes to twenty-five. Normally that would’ve excited me.
This whole thing was kicking me right in my ass. I should’ve stayed in bed. But I waited too long to not get something.
The closer my group got to the door, the more real the pressure got! As earlier groups started filing out, some had lots of bags while others looked forlorn and stated “There was nothing left.” What do you mean there’s nothing left!! Even the $560+ dollar mettalic leather jacket!? There’s still so many people behind us, as well as us, the yellow-banded group. The guys especially kept stating that most of the menswear was basically gone. So there was hope for us girls, but my group could see from downstairs that boys and girls were just grabbing what they could off the racks. Jesus, I was going to have to act like a neanderthal for a blouse.
I tried to pull a fast one and go in with the blue group, but security caught me and told me to wait. I did and when it was the yellow group’s turn, security and a manager insisted we walk calmly or get kicked out. I wonder if they told the last group the same as we had witnessed them bum-rush the door. You would have thought it was a liquidation sale.
I was the first in line and I power walked up the escalator to the smaller than we hoped for section of Balmain x H&M. They can’t be serious. Where’s all the cute shit?! Where’s the men stuff I wanted?! My Balmain logo sweatshirt! Mah womenswear furry jacket with the leather tie! The men’s black jumpsuit. That’s that bullshit. A lot of people were just buying shit to resell on eBay. (And H&M website had already been crashing off and on). As expected, I transformed like the rest and began grabbing shit such as a black and white striped blouse, the last red drapey skirt, two of the velvet and silk mock turtleneck tops. A black and white colorblock sweater. I was desperate for the navy top Jourdan Dunn wore but didn’t see it except for the display. *my chest*
Everybody was desperate. My group even started clamoring for accessories such as belts, earrings and clutches. I had to stay focused on getting what was left of my dream list. I double checked prices and sizes and slowly started to head for the fitting room. That Balmain x H&M section was a confirmed beautiful disaster. I should’ve stayed in bed and wait in line since 5:30PM.
Thankfully, before I got to the fitting room I saw another customer just leaving with the exact Dunn top I wanted. We traded in our skirts as my red drapey was less wrinkled and she gave me the top. *Bless her* I went to the fitting room. The blue top was a tight squeeze, but I was in thirst mode. Just like the Rihanna Creepers I bought that are size 9 and I’m a ten, this shit was going to have to work.
As I had read online, the sizes did run small and the drapey skirt, which was a size 6, I had to say no to. I clearly needed an 8. (Don’t ask how I could justify size 9 shoes or a size 6 top, but not size 6 bottoms). Quality-wise, the items are super soft and not itchy. It’s pretty great.
I wound up purchasing the navy top, the black and white striped blouse (so soft) and a pink silky mock turtleneck (super Victorian). I paid around $300 and some change. LAWD!
As I looked back at the Balmain x H&M, I couldn’t help but conclude one last time: what a fun, hot mess this all was. I really stood in line for this.
A little after 9:45AM, I began my walk to downtown crossing out of curiosity, and their section was sadder than Newbury’s. That was only because they still had one more group left, orange wrist-banders, but their options were so limited. I felt kind of bad for them. I mean, this one guy looked like he would’ve loved the men shit.
Obviously, I was right about downtown having even more people than Newbury. Glad I stayed on the other side. Phew! I got what I could.
So November 5th was my first time “camping out” for what was essentially a break the internet moment in fashion. I would do it again because when it comes to shopping, there’s nothing better than getting exactly what you wanted. But it was intense and right now #RestockBalmain is trending on social media and jerks are okay with themselves in reselling a $149 top for $2,000. It would be nice if H&M was more appreciative of the fans that wait out in the cold and offer mini beverages and snacks. Because damn as regular folk, we go through a lot of shit just to keep up with the joneses.