Hundreds queued, some for more than 60 hours, for the Balmain x H&M collection that launched in Singapore on Thursday (Nov 5). But in less than four hours the shelves were emptied and a majority of the collection was sold out. By Thursday afternoon, only tube tops remained at the Orchard building outlet while the ION Orchard store was left with tube tops, a few pieces of the men’s white tops, and some boots.
After 38 hours of queueing and spending more than $8,000 on the Balmain x H&M collection, freelance fashion designer Bi Yue still left the H&M flagship outlet at Orchard building on Thursday (Nov 5) morning feeling a little disappointed. The beaded embellished jacket she had been eyeing, of which there were only five, had been grabbed before the 28-year-old could get to the rack. Ms Bi, who started queuing on Tuesday at 6pm with a friend, was among the first 30 people allowed into the shop. She left the shop with almost 10 bags, with some purchases for friends and family.
H&M collaborations with luxury brands such as Alexander Wang and Isabel Marant have always inspired long queues ahead of the official launch date, but the celeb-endorsed Balmain collection - featuring the high-end French brand's form-fitting dresses and structured blazers - has caused the most extreme behaviour.
The 109-piece collection, designed by French designer Olivier Rousteing, was launched in Singapore on Thursday at the Orchard Building and Ion Orchard H&M. The queue at Orchard building started at 7pm on Monday (Nov 2), and more than 500 people were in line this morning.
Ms Bi, who is a fan of H&M's tie-ups, has been collecting clothes from various collections since the Swedish fast fashion giant collaborated with French label Lanvin in 2010. Wearing a short sleeve T-shirt dress from the 2014 Alexander Wang x H&M collection, she said she started saving for these annual capsule collections early in the year. "I spent about $2,000 for the Alexander Wang collection. But I knew it would be more this time because Balmain is more expensive."
Prices in the Alexander Wang collection ranged from $59.90 for a T-shirt to $599 for a down jacket. In comparison, while a Balmain T-shirt also cost $59.90, the priciest piece in the collection, a black, white and gold sequined dress, cost $899. Even with the higher price tags, many were eager to get their hands on the pieces flashed on the red carpet by the likes of model Kendall Jenner, her sister Kim Kardashian and pop star Rihanna.
Website editor Ridwan Sesapar, 27, and manager Dinie Rahman, 26, said they spent about $4,000 on clothes and accessories for themselves and a friend. They had queued since 10am on Wednesday. "Our initial budget was $5,500 but we couldn't get everything that we wanted," said Mr Dinie.
Customers were allowed into the store only in batches of 30. Some were seen holding print-outs of the collections catalogue, their eyes darting in a panic from the sheet to the racks as they tried to collect everything on their list. Some even had one or two helpful H&M staff trailing behind them with stacks of clothing. H&M was unable to share specific sales figure.
A version of this story was originally published in The Straits Times on November 5, 2015. For more stories like this, head to www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle.