I am not what you’d call a shop-a-holic, not even close. In fact, dare I say it, I kind of hate shopping. I’m a total commitment-phobe when it comes to parting with money, and if I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for, then I throw in the towel. But I love fashion. I’m fascinated by fashion. Which is why I couldn’t miss the launch of H&M’s latest designer collaboration with Marni this morning. Even though I wasn’t all that interested in the line’s trademark shapeless shifts and A-line skirts, I still wanted to be at the Beverly Center when the doors opened so I could experience the madness for myself.
First, I must give props to the staff at H&M. These folks have organized chaos down to a science. Shoppers could start lining up as early as midnight last night (we met someone who got there at 10:45 p.m.!) outside in front of a Quizno’s. A 6 a.m. the die-hards were let into the mall, and around 6:45 a.m. H&M employees began passing out colored wristbands with designated shopping times. Doors opened at 8 a.m. Allison, my co-worker and partner-in-crime, and I arrived at 8 a.m. on the dot, just in time to see the gates roll up. We followed protocol and got wristbands: orange 11 & 12 with the assigned time of 10:05 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.
Since the Marni merchandise was blocked off in its own area, customers were free to roam about the store and shop as they waited for their time to come. It was almost like being at the zoo; shoppers were corralled into a small section while the rest of us watched from behind a barricade. Some scouted out their shopping routes, while others pointed out their desired items to friends and family who’d made it in before them.
Groups lined up 10 minutes before their assigned time in numerical order, much like you would if you were boarding a flight on Southwest Airlines. Each group of 30 people had 15 minutes to shop the Marni area (and not a minute more!). Once those 15 minutes were up, you had to vacate the premises. There was even an H&M employee with a bullhorn shouting time updates: 10 minutes left! Only 5 minutes left! Between each group was a 5 minute buffer for employees to clean-up and re-stock. The one restriction: each customer could only grab two of each item. But if you wanted to buy two of every item, you could. And believe me, we saw some people who probably did. Luckily there were H&M employees at the section’s exit to count your loot and make sure you didn’t take more than your allotted amount. But when you’re shopping for more then just yourself, sometimes two isn’t enough.
Personal Shopper and Fashion Consultant Jodi Freeman braved the crowds to shop the collection for a friend of hers in NYC who loves Marni. She was going to be in meetings all day and unable to hit up her local H&M. Unfortunately, Jodi was in the 9:45 a.m. group and could already tell that there weren’t many items still available from her friend’s list. As for snagging a coveted item or two for herself? Unlikely. “I don’t like to buy stuff everyone else is getting,” she said. “That polka dot skirt is adorable, but everyone will be wearing it.”
And while we spotted women carrying handbags from every high-end designer on the runway – Chloe, Balenciaga, Prada, Louis Vuitton – the morning’s must-have accessory was your man. To keep their hands free and available for pawing the merch, women brought boyfriends and husbands to do the heavy lifting. These poor guys were completely weighed down with shopping bags, boxes and hangers full of clothes. Forget about arm candy, these dudes deserved a medal.
By the time we gained access to the area, there was plenty of apparel left, but most of the accessories were long gone. Allison grabbed a bracelet and a pair of sunglasses, among a few tops, but only left with the shades. For $19.95, they were too cute to pass up! I tried on a flared jacquard skirt, but, to the surprise of no one, didn’t love it enough to spend the $79.95.
We did find plenty of other satisfied customers. Student and entrepreneur Curbin Pitts (who arrived at 10:45 p.m. and camped out all night) left with everything he wanted: a pair of sandals, pants and a backpack. “It was mostly worth it,” he told us. “It’s been a long time, but I’m glad I waited.”
Even Johnny, one of our senior graphic designers, rose early to visit the H&M in West Hollywood. He was in the second shopping group and made out like a bandit scoring three button-down shirts, one T-shirt, a sweater, swim trunks, two handbags, a pair of sandals, a pair of sunglasses, two pairs of earrings and one bracelet.
But perhaps the most useful piece of gossip we heard while making new friends was who the next designer collaboration will be with. Word on the street is it’s Tom Ford. But you didn’t hear it from us!