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03/11/2016
I was there. It was sad.

Words by

Bianca O'Neill

I must admit, I was pretty conflicted when I heard about the Kenzo x H&M collab a few months ago. On the one hand, Kenzo had been one of my favourite brands for ages – I even watched a wallet intently as it dropped in price on Net-a-Porter, eventually roping my hubby in to buy it for my birthday. It still remains my most prized possession.

On the other hand, quite frankly, the promotional imagery for the collection (which launched today in store) was alienating. Among the questionable ketchup-red zebra printed bodysuits and pink shearling was some pretty intense styling. It certainly wasn't for everyone – which H&M, however, most definitely is.

That said, once you deconstructed the full collection to its individual pieces, it was delightfully playful and Kenzo all over. A handbag that looks like a shopping bag (wink) sat beside a stunning layered Russian Doll dress with intricate detailing.

Last time H&M had a collab, it was with Balmain – and considering the proliferation of the label across multiple Kardashian social accounts, it was no wonder that when I arrived at 6am I was one of the very last to snatch a ticket for entry at 11am. Arriving at my allocated time, all that was left were a few lone pieces, still swinging from the fury of previous shoppers.

So it's no wonder that this time around I decided to forgo the whole damn thing and simply report from the front line. But... what was this? At 10am, there were still tickets left? For a session in just 45 mins time? And, as a worker relayed to an anxious shopper, “plenty of stock left in women’s.”

I decided to try my luck and returned at 10.45am for my session. Much to my surprise, almost the entire range remained, with all sizes (including the often covetable XS) still left in most styles. Even the accessories, at entry level price points, were fully stocked.

It kind of reminded me of that time Dion Lee did a collab with Target, who clearly didn't know its target audience. Weeks later, sad racks stuffed with multiple sizes sat quietly at the front of the store, as middle aged mothers walked briskly through to the discount homewares section.

As I walked out, confused at my generous haul, I chatted to a couple walking down Bourke Street with Kenzo bags in hand. They told me they had arrived at 2am and were among the first group in. I asked them if they thought it was as busy as previous collaboration launches and they told me “definitely not.”

Another group was milling around the front of H&M and I asked them for an opinion on this year's lines. This group had arrived at 5:30am and said they were surprised to be among the second influx of people allowed in-store. They were able to purchase their first choices and even returned to purchase womenswear later (the sections were split, with customers having to choose one or the other).

Perhaps it's no surprise that this response was quiet for an H&M collab – Kenzo doesn't really have the pull of Balmain, especially when you consider the wearability factor of a classic cut blazer compared to a bright green zebra-print pullover with ruffles on it.

As I left (around 11:30am), an H&M employee was still handing out wristbands. I enquired as to whether I could ask a few questions about the lines this morning and she replied: "We've been told not to answer any questions from journalists."

Considering the amount of product still hanging on the racks as I write, it's probably for the best.

See what Bianca bought at the Kenzo x H&M launch this morning over at @_thesecondrow.

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