While online shoppers were frustrated, fashionistas who queued at the London flagship store had a much better experience – with the logo jackets and pinafore dresses proving especially popular.
As H&M’s website crashed this morning under demand from its collaboration with Kenzo, virtual shoppers would have been better off heading to the brand’s flagship store in London’s Oxford Circus. An efficient wristband system meant that the hundreds waiting in line were methodically herded into the shop at 10-minute intervals, in a marked contrast to the stampede seen last year at the launch of its collection with French fashion house Balmain.
The cold didn’t stop some keen fashionistas and self-proclaimed “hype-beasts” from camping out all night to have first dibs on the annual designer collaboration items. The Kenzo collection, which has been supported by Lupita Nyong’o, Chloë Sevigny and Chance the Rapper, includes a range of colourful, gaudy prints, accessories, bomber jackets, petticoat dresses and off-the-shoulder tops. It also includes Kenzo’s classic logo sweatshirts; with prices starting from £7.99 and going up to £299.99.
Adam, 25, a stylist, was first in line at the store before it opened at 9am, and had flown in from Milan for the launch. Arriving at 8.30pm the night before, he said that the queue was like “my little pony” compared to “Balmania” last year but that the experience, which saw him spend £4,500, had been “intense”.
“I like Kenzo because it’s fun and contemporary; it’s part of pop culture now,” he said. “I have their main line and it will be interesting to see what the reception is here, because the brand is quite affordable anyway – this is even more affordable.”
Nineteen-year-old LSE student Ben Johnson had arrived at the store at 11.30pm the night before to buy a faux-leather, pink fluffy jacket for his girlfriend because “she really bloody loves pink”. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Tom Dunn had arrived slightly later in the morning at 6.30am, but was also queuing to buy clothing for his girlfriend and a few friends.
“I work in advertising and was honest about why I was taking the time off,” he laughed. “It was so mad in there; I tried to grab as much stuff as I could. I was a bit panicky, as I’d heard about Balmain last year.”
Japanese designer Kenzo Takada launched his eponymous brand in 1970, and it found particular popularity in the 1980s with its “ethnic” inspired patterns and bright colours, but saw a decline in the nineties as fashions changed.
In 1999 Takada stepped down, and by 2011 creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, founders of Open Ceremony boutiques, were installed and brought the brand back to life with a modern take on Takada’s original style.
Shoppers, who ranged from students to grandmothers, seemed chilly but happy with their purchases, with many spending in the region of £400. Yves Alawe, 20, a fashion designer, said he had budgeted £1,000 for the collection, but after seeing the colour scheme went down to £600. “The jackets are nice but the colours are a bit much,” he said, adding that he believed most of the people who had queued in the morning were “resellers”.
On the other hand, Red Palulu, 46, who was dressed in a handmade pink dashiki-style dress and said that she had never queued for a collection of clothing before, said she had been enticed by the bright shades of blue, pink and green.
“I’m going to get a dress, a jacket and a pair of trousers,” she said before heading into the store. “I was looking through and I thought: ‘This combination will be a look.’ I like to make my own clothes so I wanted to buy stuff that I could mix and match with. I just want to go out clubbing wearing fantastic creations.”
H&M said their most popular Kenzo items in the UK so far had been the logo jumpers, the pinafore dress for women and the leather bomber jacket for men.
“Demand has surpassed all expectations,” said a spokesperson, “The response has been incredibly positive, and we are proud and delighted to have achieved yet another successful designer collaboration, proving once again that design and quality are not a matter of price.”