Balmain for H&M – hype or high fashion?

Months ago we were teased with Oliver Rousteing’s upcoming collection for H&M. Models such as Kendall Jenner and Jordanne Dunne were seen sporting heavily beaded black tailored jackets and royal blue ruched mini dresses to high profile events.

The pieces surrounded us before we even knew about the collection.

Since then we’ve been drip fed with information and teasers, with some of the pieces starting to appear on trading sites such as Ebay for double the price – all building the hype.

It would be a fair comment to say that the pieces are stunning, with high quality fabric and beading bringing a touch of elegance to H&M.

And this isn’t the first designer collaboration the high street store has taken part in, with star studded names such as Alexander Wang and Stella McCartney, this fresh partnership is simply a name among an ever growing list.

What makes the campaign special, however, is the marketing behind it. From using internationally renowned models (and celebs) to a highly strategised music video and lookbook, they have looked at this collaboration from all angles. Even those who don’t follow fashion will be familiar with some of the pieces.

Imaged sourced from The Independent

Imaged sourced from The Independent

But we’ve got to ask ourselves, isn’t it ironic that a simple highstreet store selling knitted jumpers for £7.99 is now charging £300 plus for a beaded jacket?

“It’s all about publicity. Top designers are now aware that we’re buying more from the highstreet so they’re targeting them in collaborations,” says Lynne Hugill, lecturer on Teesside University’s Fashion Enterprise degree.

Through being a subject to Balmain’s clever marketing strategy, I decided to sit down with the fashion professionals to gain their take on this hotly anticipated collab. In a room surrounded by handmade paper dresses and brainstorms for future designs, the Fashion Enterprise students were a group of bubbly, intelligent and unique individuals.

“The collection looks amazing, it’s such good value for money as well. It’s interesting because we’re so used to those with money buying these types of pieces but with such a difference in quality at a reasonable price, we think they’ll be

Teesside University's Fashion Enterprise students

Teesside University’s Fashion Enterprise students

sold out within a day!” said Lynn Cowell, Fashion enterprise student.

With celebrity fans such as Kim Kardashian snapping pictures to her 50.1 million Instagram followers, Balmain is a name we’re all familiar with in the social media world.

“I just don’t understand the hype around Kim” added Lynn.


“I’m glad they used a women with curves to promote them as opposed to the stereotypical ‘thin’ model but I don’t understand why people aspire to be her.” 

After much debate around the table it was decided that celebrity culture has massively influenced designers, to the point where high street stores are replicating looks to be sold the day after an outfit is worn.

“I think Primark brought fashion to the masses with their cheaper alternatives” says Denis Brown, Fashion Enterprise student.

“Kim Kardashian is fashionably influential and aids fast fashion massively. Top designers are now accessible to us all through high street replicas, therefore brands such as Balmain are now looking to places like H&M to gain that hype, kind of like a ‘limited edition’ feeling.” 

Throughout the Balmain for H&M discussion, we decided that the hype was created through clever marketing strategies, ideal placing near the Christmas season and the fact that it’s making those ‘limited edition’ pieces accessible to a variety of people with different incomes.

“At the end of the day, those lines between designers and highstreet have blurred. In some cases the top designers are now looking towards the high street for inspiration and collaboration.” says Sarah Walker, fashion student.

Balmain for H&M is out in stores and online on November 5th.

from Tside