As H&M’s website banged this morning under demand from its collaboration with Kenzo, understood shoppers would have been better off heading to the label’s flagship store in London’s Oxford Circus. An efficient wristband technique meant that the hundreds waiting in line were methodically massed into the shop at 10-minute intervals, in a marked contrast to the panic seen last year at the launch of its collection with French dernier cri house Balmain.
The cold didn’t stop some cutting fashionistas and self-proclaimed “hype-beasts” from camping out all night to must first dibs on the annual designer collaboration items. The Kenzo amassment, which has been supported by Lupita Nyong’o, Chloë Sevigny and Probability the Rapper, includes a range of colourful, gaudy prints, adjuncts, bomber jackets, petticoat dresses and off-the-shoulder tops. It also groups Kenzo’s classic logo sweatshirts; with prices starting from £7.99 and wealthy up to £299.99.
Adam, 25, a stylist, was win initially in line at the store before it opened at 9am, and had flown in from Milan for the gig. Arriving at 8.30pm the night before, he said that the cortege was like “my little pony” compared to “Balmania” last year but that the test, which saw him spend £4,500, had been “intense”.
“I like Kenzo because it’s fun and present-day; it’s part of pop culture now,” he said. “I have their main belt and it will be interesting to see what the reception is here, because the stamp is quite affordable anyway – this is even more affordable.”
Nineteen-year-old LSE scholar Ben Johnson had arrived at the store at 11.30pm the night before to buy a faux-leather, pink feathery jacket for his girlfriend because “she really bloody loves pink”. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Tom Dunn had appeared slightly later in the morning at 6.30am, but was also queuing to buy clobbering for his girlfriend and a few friends.
“I work in advertising and was honest about why I was delightful the time off,” he laughed. “It was so mad in there; I tried to grab as much bosh as I could. I was a bit panicky, as I’d heard about Balmain last year.”
Japanese interior decorator Kenzo Takada launched his eponymous brand in 1970, and it set particular popularity in the 1980s with its “ethnic” inspired originals and bright colours, but saw a decline in the nineties as fashions changed.
In 1999 Takada speed up a go outside down, and by 2011 creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, originators of Open Ceremony boutiques, were installed and brought the type back to life with a modern take on Takada’s prototype style.
Shoppers, who ranged from students to grandmothers, appeared chilly but happy with their purchases, with assorted spending in the region of £400. Yves Alawe, 20, a construct designer, said he had budgeted £1,000 for the collection, but after receiving the colour scheme went down to £600. “The jackets are comfortably but the colours are a bit much,” he said, adding that he believed uncountable of the people who had queued in the morning were “resellers”.
On the other hand, Red Palulu, 46, who was dressed in a handmade pink dashiki-style gown and said that she had never queued for a collection of clothing in front, said she had been enticed by the bright shades of blue, pink and inexperienced.
“I’m going to get a dress, a jacket and a pair of trousers,” she said more willingly than heading into the store. “I was looking through and I thought: ‘This blend will be a look.’ I like to make my own clothes so I wanted to buy squeeze that I could mix and match with. I just want to go out clubbing wearing extravagant creations.”
H&M said their most popular Kenzo pieces in the UK so far had been the logo jumpers, the pinafore dress for women and the leather bomber jacket for men.
“Outcry has surpassed all expectations,” said a spokesperson, “The response has been incredibly certain, and we are proud and delighted to have achieved yet another successful deviser collaboration, proving once again that design and supremacy are not a matter of price.”