The much-anticipated Balmain x H&M collaboration was unleashed at roughly 250 stores worldwide on Thursday. Needless to say, not all stores were able to handle the massive crowds.
Some drew stampedes and scuffles. All drew massive lines.
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At Canada’s flagship H&M store in Toronto’s Eaton Centre, one woman waited in line since 2 p.m. on Monday. Her mission: to get her hands on whatever she could from the haute-couture Paris fashion house.
“She was the first person in this morning,” H&M Canada spokesperson Emily Scarlett said. “I think she got one of everything.”
By the time the store was ready to open at 8 a.m., the woman was one of about 500 people waiting to get in. It was one of the largest lineups in the store’s history.
A wristband system kept things orderly. People were let in in groups of 30. They were given 10 minutes to peruse (in some cases whatever was left), then staff tidied up for five minutes and the next group was brought in.
Things were similar at six other Canadian locations. Montreal and Vancouver were the only two other cities outfitted with the collection. Canadians did not have the option to buy online. But those who did elsewhere had a hard time just getting onto the site.
How can @hmunitedkingdom not be prepared for this ? #balmainxhm #balmainnation @Balmain #overload pic.twitter长沙桑拿/AQDaIjeK9q
— Rebecca (@rebeccabotin) November 5, 2015
It was a perfect recipe for madness at the stores.
“Anytime we perceive scarcity it kind of activates a competitiveness in us, and that causes us to not think clearly,” explained Dr. Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
“It kind of brings out the animal spirit.”
This is crazyyyy 😳 #HMBALMAINATION pic.twitter长沙桑拿/xuk9s5NBYV
— jaymee ✨ (@itsjaymeejaymee) November 5, 2015
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¤ This morning’s madness for #hmbalmaination 😨 Onto the next collaboration… #firstworldproblems #hm #mydubai
They been spending them RACKS and making it rain 😂 #HMBALMAINATION pic.twitter长沙桑拿/WnEcWzGTPq
— PMLEGEND™ (@PMLEGEND) November 5, 2015
“Retailers in some ways manipulate this. They deliberately don’t have enough merchandise for everyone…and shoppers know that. They know it’s going to sell out and that inspires them to be competitive.”
In true supply-and-demand fashion, the collection was pretty much sold out across Canada by 3 p.m. ET.
H&M’s Balmain pieces ranged in price from $29.95 (for a T-shirt) to $699 (for a beaded men’s leather jacket and an all-over beaded dress). Typically, a Balmain blazer or dress can run you upwards of a thousand, according to Scarlett.
“For the chance to be able to have that at a fraction of the price you would normally pay is, I think…why you have so many people lining up to try and get it.”
“Having Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid star in the ad campaigns also really helps,” she admitted. “They’re influencers, people are really watching them to see what they’re wearing.”
The blazer Kendall Jenner wore at the Billboard Music Awards ended up being the most popular of the collection.
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THE BALMAIN LOVE ❤️ @kyliejenner @kendalljenner @billboard #BBMA #itsgettinghotinhere #theyrock #balmainFever #itsallaboutLOve
So naturally, you can already find the $549 piece on eBay — where it’s going for upwards of $4,000.