As an example of how the bewildering PR system at H&M sometimes works, let us remember about six weeks ago when it was officially announced that the popular contemporary chain COS would be opening its second U.S. store on Fifth Avenue in part of the space on the northeast corner of 42nd Street that had been quietly abandoned by H&M, its parent company. What would take the rest of the space, we all wondered?
Well, no official announcement appears to have been made other than big sign in the window telling us that the other budding chain from H&M, & Other Stories, will be joining its sister for its second store in New York —and the entire U.S, for that matter.
We won't have to wait too long for the trendy chain's expansion. What must be a pretty firm opening date of October 30th is clearly included in the window, which makes this scenario a striking mirror of the stores' arrivals in SoHo when the more sophisticated COS was the first to be announced, but lagged months behind & Other Stories in actually opening to the public. On Fifth Avenue, COS is still "opening soon" which could mean this Fall, Christmastime, next Spring or just when they are damn good and ready.
We aren't complaining. We'll take more COS anytime whenever they want to give it to us, but now we know for sure that both of H&M's up and coming nameplates are on the road to expansion in New York and beyond. If the new stores are as well received in Midtown as they have been in SoHo, you can bet that there will be more of both coming your way soon.
There's no going back to the old fashioned press release for H&M which has taken a social media heavy strategy to promote its upcoming collaboration with Balmain. Today it's a tweet from French ELLE (pictured above) of a strong shouldered minidress with long sleeves, a skimpy hemline and lavish embroidery that indicate the unmistakable signature of Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing. Since the collaboration was announced on the red carpet of the Billboard Music Awards and via Instagram, we should start to expect more images of the collection to casually drop until the official launch on November 5. It's looking like a good season for collaborations with Adam Lippes' Target line coming next month, the upcoming Uniqlo x Lemaire introduction and the always reliable GAP X GQ's Best New Menswear Designers quartet of capsules. Stay tuned for more updates.
H&M x Balmain Collaboration Announced On Twitter, Instagram & The Red Carpet
In a first for H&M, the chain's big Fall designer collaboration was announced by its designer on the red carpet of an awards show. At last night's Billboard Music Awards red carpet, Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing announced the upcoming collaboration flanked by models Jourdan Dunn and ubiquitous multimedia phenomenon Kendall Jenner (pictured below). His cohorts were reportedly dressed in looks from the upcoming collection, though it is unusual for H&M to release any kind of preview this far ahead of the launch date, November 5th. Further confirmation soon came from both Rousteing's and H&M's Instagram and Twitter feeds. While H&M has yet to issue a full press release, the only other bit of information we know is that the collection will include both women's and men's clothing and accessories, and, of course, can best be followed on social media with the hashtag #HMBalmaination. Will there be some good biker pants? It's a good bet, and something to ponder before the fast fashion giant opens its biggest store on the planet on Wednesday at the former Herald Center.
See some relevant embeds below, and stay tuned for updates.
UPDATED with the official images & video.
In an official statement designer Olivier Rousteing says, "I want to talk to my generation: this is my main purpose as a designer. H&M allows me the unique possibility of bringing everyone into the world of Balmain, getting a piece of the dream and creating a global #HMBalmaination: a movement of togetherness, fueled on a hashtag. The collaboration felt extremely natural to me because everybody can connect with the H&M brand. It calls for unity, and I am all for it."
In a rare instance of timeliness, the H&M store that is taking over the former Herald Center will open on May 20th, two weeks from yesterday and one month before the "Summer 2015" date indicated on its signage officially begins. It's comforting to see H&M buck the trend of stores that seem to take forever to get built, and the date will get even more attention because singer John Legend has been pressed into service to open the store.
The store at 63,000 square feet will be H&M's biggest in the world with four floors collecting every single one of the chain's product categories including newer lines like H&M Sport and H&M Mama. It trumps the now puny 50,000 square foot store that opened last year on Fifth Avenue and was itself, for a time at least, the biggest store in the chain. That will leave the chain with three stores on the 34th Street shopping corridor, although the one closest to Herald Square between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is slated to close. More details about opening festivities are likely to be disclosed in the coming week, so stay tuned.
Though H&M never officially announced it, the store that debuted the game-changing Swedish fast-fashion brand in the U.S. will, in fact, be shutting down at the end of this month which means that you have only a few days left to buy whatever is left in there at 50% off according to our friends at Racked. While the company initially denied plans to close the store at Fifth Avenue and 51st Street, as they often have multiple stores clustered nearby in the same area, it seems that even they had to concede that three stores within a ten-block stretch even on Fifth Avenue was a little bit excessive, especially if it includes one of the chain's largest stores in the world. Too big to be converted to one of the company's newer COS or & Other Stories concepts, the location has long been rumored to be where Niketown will move when its lease ends on East 57th Street. Though that isn't supposed to happen for another couple of years, converting the H&M store will probably require a gut renovation and elaborate construction before Nike can move in, so the likelihood of that rumor panning out is still high. This also means that when the next of H&M's immense flagships opens in the former Herald Center space at 34th Street and Broadway sometime next year (?), one of the chain's other stores on that busy corridor —probably the one half a block away between Fifth and Sixth Avenues— will be on its way out as well. That particular store is not quite as huge, and could be a more appropriate candidate to convert to COS, or, more likely, & Other Stories, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you are looking re-live some memories of standing in line outside for the latest Designer Collaboration line to launch, or just hunting for some half priced H&M bargains that may or may not be particularly current merchandise, head over to 51st and Fifth and have at it.
H&M has reponded via Twitter to our post, and tells us that while that store is obviously closing, they are still planning on having three midtown Fifth Avenue stores. Where is the store moving to? That is the question.
@theshophound Great news! This store is relocating to a larger site, also on 5th Avenue.— hm_custserv (@hm_custserv) December 30, 2014
The Shophound will not be reporting from various H&M locations around the city for the simple reason that it seems clear that the launch of the Swedish chain's collaboration with Alexander Wang looks to be the biggest, craziest, most popular collaboration it has had since, well, probably since 2004 when they first started doing them. Our friends at Racked hit the special VIP preview shopping session for press last night (at left) and reported that the racks were picked clean within an hour. It's not surprising at all. This appears to be one of the most heavily promoted collaborations the chain has ever done including not only the obligatory TV commercials and subway and outdoor advertising, but a huge celebrity pre-launch party a couple of weeks ago that included a heavily produced runway show featuring more top models than any Fashion Week runway show had on hand last season plus a rare performing appearance from Missy Elliott. So, there's all that plus the fact that of all the designers H&M has joined forces with, Alexander Wang is, so far, the most wildly popular among the young customers whose business the chain cultivates. On top of that, rather than presenting new versions of tried and true signature pieces, this collection includes brand new designs that Wang fans won't already have in their closets. The participating stores carrying the collection will open at 8 AM today, and though H&M will be implementing the color-coded bracelet timed shopping session system that has worked for past collabs, it will probably still be pandemonium. Our advice, if you want to buy any of the collection, is to be on the retailer's website when online shopping commences and act as fast as you can.
Best of luck to you.
It's going to be a madhouse.
H&M is preparing for what might possibly be its most frenzied Designer Collaboration ever as its exclusive Alexander Wang collection launches on November 6th in select stores and online. Frankly, we are a little bit afraid of even attempting to visit the stores on that day, but at least we have plenty of time to plan ahead. You have seen the advertising images, and today, the entire collection has hit the internet by way of lookbook images all of which we have included in two separate galleries for women above and men below. We knew that it would be a special line of brand new items designed just for the Swedish retailer with an athletic theme, but unfortunately, the big surprise is that it is probably H&M's most expensively priced collaboration yet. Sure, there are tees and knits that run from just under $50 to around $99, but there are also pieces that run up to nearly $400, which is getting close to what regular Alexander Wang costs. We haven't seen the womnen's line itemized yet, but GQ has item shots of the men's collection which reveals that those cool high-top leather zip sneakers will be $299. Fast fashion prices? We don't think so. That great reflective down parka will be $349. Backpacks are checking in at $129 - $249. The zip sweatshirt with textured sleeves will be $349, and so on. Anyway, the stuff comes almost entirely in black and looks really cool. You can actually buy those boxing gloves ($59.95). There are a lot of logos, and if you want to wear a head elongating ski beanie ($29.95) that says "WANG" in big letters on it, then you may do so at your own risk. For us, it's a little on the nose, so to speak. Click the galleries, and decide for yourself.
Alexander Wang's collaboration line with H&M doesn't drop until November 6th, but the advertising campaign has just been unveiled. Rather than collecting together "Greatest Hits", Wang's line has been designed specifically for the chain with an athletic inspiration, so the designer cast soccer player Andy Carroll and kickboxer Rivaldino dos Santos alongside supermodels Joan Smalls, Isabeli Fontana, Natasha Poly and Raquel Zimmerman to be photographed by Mikael Jansson. “We wanted to take certain elements of each sport and portray the ultimate warrior,” Wang tells WWD. “The girls had to feel big and heroic, and Mikael used sunlight glares to heighten that effect against a stark white backdrop.”Have a look at the campaign in the gallery above.
"Everything under one roof" is what to keep in mind as H&M opens the doors of its biggest flagship anywhere today at Noon at Fifth Avenue and 48th Street. For the first time in the U.S., every product category that the Swedish mega-chain offers will be available in a single store including men's, women's, children's, newborn, maternity, lingerie, cosmetics, special sizes and, for the first time in New York, the long awaited home collection.
Will you want to get there early?
Maybe. The first 500 shoppers through the doors get an H&M T-shirt and an Access to Fashion Pass (read: Gift Card), valued from $10 to $500, so they will make it worth you while.
In addition, artist Jeff Koons has collaborated with the chain to offer an exclusive limited edition handbag featuring the signature "Balloon Dog" image ($49.95 at left) that will be plastered on the store's façade for the opening (H&M is a major sponsor of Koon's current retrospective at the Whitney Museum).
Of course at 57,000 square feet, it will only be the chain's biggest store for a few months until it has to surrender its title later this year to the 63,000 square foot unit set to open later this year on 34th Street at the former Herald Center. If you miss today's fanfare, don't worry. It looks like there will be plenty more coming in a few months and that's not even including the U.S. debuts of H&M's other chains & Other Stories and COS before the end of the year.
Yeah, they are taking over the city.
H&M Opens at Noon on Thursday July 17th at 589 Fifth Avenue at 48th Street, Midtown
H&M's Biggest Flagship Ever Opens On Fifth Avenue In July With A Jeff Koons Collaboration + Prizes
Leave it to the clever folks at H&M to know that a slow, steamy, muggy Summer day is the perfect time to release the images from the next David Beckham Bodywear campaign. It's not that any day isn't a good day to release pictures of Beckham in his underwear, but just as the U.S. has exited the World Cup competition, it is not a bad idea to turn our attention to another celebrated footballer who has move on to other endeavors that still allow him to show off his legs and torso. This season, Becks is looking a little angrier than usual, with his mussed up hair and five-day stubble. You may not want to bother him this season, just get your underpants and be on your way. The new collection hits H&M stores on August 21, and includes new patterns and colors like blue check that folks seem to be very excited about. By then, you should also be able to find the collection at the new H&M flagship on Fifth Avenue, but we are likely to have more to say about that store when it opens in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, have a look at the campaign and a few behind-the-scenes shots in the gallery below.