Blown up hype and extreme marketing tactics for the latest “it” must-have product don’t sway me. Yet, I am fascinated with the psychology of marketing used by retailers and brand managers to entice a consumer and whip them up into a frenzy.
The latest über hyped event was H&M’s collaboration with French designer, Isabel Marant. She has been designing since the mid 90s with prices in the $450-$1400 range. Her style is described as effortless-bohemian chic. As you might know, H&M has been collaborating with designers for many years creating a major PR caffeinated buzz weeks before opening day. Last year was no exception when Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela designed a collab collection. Margiela is one of my designer faves and I was disappointed by H&M’s rendering and quality overall. This year, I attempted to cope with the crowds and join in the fray to get Isabel Marant for a fraction of regular price.
What gains attention among consumers? I am convinced Americans will buy anything as long as the displays are clever and the marketers convince the public into buying the latest fashion madness. I would love to see Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld explore the boundaries of what a woman is willing to buy. If he designed stilettos made from prized-winning Holstein cow dung, women would buy it, as long as the intertwined CC logo on quilted stitch lines is front and center.
Against my better judgment, I decided to join the melee by waking up at 5:30am so I could get in line at the mall when the doors open at 8am.
At first, there was some semblance of order. Security guards used ropes to line all of the eager beaver and sheepish shoppers as they waited in anticipation. We were each given colored wristbands with 15 minute designated time slots. My time slot was 8:45-9:00am and knew I was in trouble. H&M issued SHOPPING RULES -each person is allowed to purchase 4 pieces of assorted items. As witnessed at the Margiela event, women were out to grab everything in sight, whether they liked the items or not.
As my time slot got closer, women were cutting ahead of me unapologetically. This is New Jersey, where common courtesy falls by the wayside. Neither was this a sophisticated fashion flock. Judging by what shoppers were wearing–sweats, leggings, running shoes and old stained Gucci and CC’d logo bags, I wondered if these rabid huntresses in suburban kick-boxing gear were discerning enough to know Isabel Marant outside of H&M. Methinks not!
Ding, ding, ding. The gate opened and the Running of the Bulls began. Horns interlocked and pierced every rack, blood running. My friend and I scoured the entire women’s section and found a few items we liked, but most items were sold out. Here are some of the pieces I saw but could not find in my size.
The 15 minute time slot allotted to shop, is way too short. Usually it takes me that long to study and caress a garment, let alone assess an entire collection.
We left the store disappointed but knew that at noon the collection would be available online. So as soon as noon struck this is what stared back at us.
Wow, this is the last thing we expected. What happened next led us to uncontrollable fits of laughter. The TV was on and just as the H&M site went down, President Obama was apologizing–yet again– to Americans about the defective implementation of the healthcare exchanges website, that won’t be glitch-free until the end of the month. Do you think the Einsteins behind the government’s healthcare.gov site were also hired to launch the Marant collab site for H&M?
The day was full of comic relief. While I am not a fan of H&M, I appreciate their collaborations with well known designers. It’s fashion democracy in action, an effort to offer designs for middle America and not just for the 1%. Overall I found Isabel’s collection “meh” and purchasing a mundane car coat for $250 just illogical. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend $300 more for something with more “oomph” and higher quality? The Isabel Marant for H&M label doesn’t cut it unless the piece is worn inside out with the label in full view signifying a medal for winning the frenzied onslaught.
When we first stood in line before 8am, I felt a sense of camaraderie among these stalwart women who woke up early to engage in fashion history. But once the gate opened, was this event the Running of the Bulls or was it the Running of the Bullshit?
Here again was another scenario that will be tossed into the annals of American retail mob hysteria. Is it worth the risk of getting trampled for fashion? Probably not. Well, look there is always eBay. The hysteria continued because when I checked, not only were the prices hyped way up, they sold out. Why do consumers follow this hype so sheepishly?
One day, I would like to be a devout member of the Church of H&M, but sadly haven’t found a reason to be a convert. Hopefully, designer Thom Browne or Zac Posen will get in on the action and produce something worthwhile which I will wear to tatters.
Bahhhhhhhhhhh for now.