What We Learned From Shopping The Isabel Marant For H&M Launch
Senior Digital Editor
Francophile fashion fans, gird your loins—this Thursday, November 14 marks the launch of Isabel Marant's collaboration collection for H&M! The wares will hit H&M stores at 8 am EST—after launching in the brand-new Times Square flagship at 1 am EST—and will later become available beginning at noon EST on HM.com. (Keep in mind, of course, that this will be the first time H&M's ever offered a collaboration collection online for U.S. shoppers—so site crashes aren't out of the realm of possibility here.)
Last night, however, press and VIPs were invited to shop the collection in-store a couple of days early. I arrived at the H&M on Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street at 6:50 pm sharp—the event was slated to begin at 7 pm—only to find a crush of guests already lined up down the block and wrapped around to the next avenue. A second "press-only" line soon formed in the opposite direction—only to later be quashed by one of the several bouncers presiding over the event's entry. "Get in the main line, or you're not getting in!!!" he bellowed. Let it be said: there are certain fashion folk who don't take being ordered around lightly. Simply put, this was hands-down the most Lord of the Flies-esque door scene of any collaboration launch party I've ever attended—and I've been to many. But lo and behold, the line was steadily filtering into the store by about 7:15—and pretty much everyone had been let into the store by around 8 pm.
Inside, the situation was every bit as nutty. Tug-of-wars emerged over coats, sweatshirts and skirts, shoppers hoarded items in multiple sizes and, from the corners of the room, a few horrified boyfriends and husbands stood shell-shocked. At one point, I witnessed an entire display table nearly collapse under a mess of discarded shoeboxes and heaps of accessories. Hors d'oeuvres were passed with increasing difficulty.
Despite being thisclose to throwing in the towel several times, I somehow emerged from the store at around 9 pm with three pieces from the line to call my own: a sheer white tee, a simple grey sweatshirt and a long-sleeved charcoal top (it was the basics in this collaboration that I was really after—but more on that in a minute). So what did I learn from this madhouse launch? Read on for five tips and tricks for shopping Isabel Marant for H&M—all of which you can apply to the collection's in-store launch tomorrow.
1. If you're jonesing for the embellished collarless jacket, the fringe-trimmed heeled boots or any of the oversized, loopy knits from this collection, be prepared to fight for them (or turn to eBay). By the time I made it into the store just 15 minutes after the doors opened, they were completely wiped out—and I never saw any of them return to the racks.
2. Loiter near those dressing rooms. Just because a certain style's vanished from the racks doesn't mean it's sold out. Almost every piece I wound up buying was something an H&M employee was returning back to the sales floor from the fitting rooms. Remember: people are going to scoop up this stuff by the armload when they see it, but they won't be buying it all. After all, shoppers are limited to purchasing four of each style in-store, and only one of each style online.
3. Don't neglect the children(swear). Seriously, folks, the kids' clothes and accessories in this collection are to die for. That charcoal top I mentioned above was actually meant for kids aged 12-14—but fit like an adult size small. The sleeves were even long enough for my monkey arms! Shoppers are obviously going to lunge for the womenswear first when this collection hits shelves—but "run away from the Cornucopia," if you will, and check out the kids' tees and jackets early in the game.
4. Remember the basics. Sure, those beaded jackets and white leather pants are cool—but next season, are you going to be hesitant to wear them since they're from that Isabel Marant for H&M collection (be honest!)? Prices aren't exactly cheap for this particular collection—that embellished jacket's $399 and the fringed boots are $299—but the basics, on the other hand, are extremely reasonable. The under-$100 (and often under-$50) tees, tanks and sweatshirts felt really well-made in person—and you can't beat the price-per-wear factor. Also smart buys? The great peacoats, which hover around the $300 mark but looked super-sharp up close.
5. If all else fails, go for the jewelry. I can't for the life of me understand why so many shoppers overlook the little accessories in these collaborations. Isabel Marant for H&M's tasseled bracelets and necklaces are dead ringers for the pieces you'd find in Marant's boutique—but cost a fraction of the price, of course, at around $25-$35 a pop. They're a great way to get in on the designer's signature French-boho look if, like myself, you're not quite ready to commit to those tie-dyed skinny jeans.
Tell us: what are you hoping to score from the Isabel Marant for H&M collection?