Collaborations between brands have become an increasingly popular way to supercharge innovation. The fashion industry is one of the industries that continue to embrace brand collaboration. One brand that has mastered this strategy is H&M, through its partnerships with celebrities and fashion labels, from Beyonce to David Beckham and Versace and many others. I’ve always found the designer collaborations to be quite smart and innovative as they together a mass market with incredibly high-end designers. Through the collaborations, H&M gains huge sales due to the hype created from the projects, while the high-end designers are able to reach a wider consumer base than their usual niche base.
H&M’s designer collaboration strategy has proven to be a huge success and publicity magnet for the brand since 2004. Collaborating designers are rumoured to be incentivised with millions of dollars for their services and for the brand, the benefits are quite obvious. H&M creative advisor, Ann-Sofie Johansson told Business Of Fashion in an interview, “It’s brand building, of course. It creates a buzz and maybe gets people who never shopped at H&M before to shop with us”. The concept is really genius, and this is another showcase of a brand that has made collaborations work, evidently so with the the maximum brand awareness and number of sales during campaign.
Today, we take you through these ICONIC designer collaborations by H&M:
1. Karl Lagerfeld – November 2004It all began with the fashion lord himself, Karl Lagerfeld. You know I have nothing good to say about Karl after the way he did my girl Kim K following her unfortunate experience (anyway, back to business). Lagerfeld’s capsule collection reportedly sold out in minutes. I guess we have Karl to thank for setting the precedence for future outselling collaborations.
2. Stella McCartney – November 2005
I love Stella McCartney and her classic aesthetic. I must say this is one collaboration I would have loved to see in more recent years. Back then some of us had no clue who she was or had very little understanding of her brand. Honestly, in 2005 I was more concerned about copping the latest distressed Vertigo jeans *hides*
3. Viktor & Rolf – November 2006
This fashion duo was reportedly inspired by a certain wedding dress and designed their entire collection around the exclusive piece. The collection isn’t my favourite and lacked the abstract creativity that is associated with their high-end brand.
4. Roberto Cavalli – 2007
I’ve always assumed Roberto Cavalli to have been the first H&M designer collaborator, I guess because this is when my ‘wokeness’ was kicking in (lol). I loved that the H&M collection still had the high-end brand’s sexy aesthetic, from metallics, sequins and wild prints.
5. Comme des Garcons – November 2008
All I know about this brand is that it gives me high-end Braam vibes. Because guys love Comme des Garcons so much, I had no idea that it was a unisex brand. They also have one of my favourite brand icons.
6. Matthew Williamson – April/May 2009
Matthew Williamson had always been targeted mainly at women, and this collaboration saw the brand venture into menswear. The collaboration was all the first to be available in all H&M stores worldwide.
7. Jimmy Choo – November 2009
This collection was incredibly popular and featured Tamara Mellon’s signatures, including animal prints, studs and of course crystals. This was also the first time H&M released two designer collaborations in the same year.
8. Lanvin – 2010in 2010, some got Alber Elba for H&M while South Africans had Phillip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining at all, Phillip undoubtedly brought us unforgettable magic as a country but this collaboration also wouldn’t have hurt. Loved that they retained some of the elements that represent the high-end brand.
9. Versace – November 2011 & January 2012
When it’s nice you gotta do it twice! H&M brought Versace back following the successful launch of their collaboration, for the release of the Versace x H&M Resort collection.
10. Marni – March 2012I’ve never heard of Marni and that is probably why this was the least exciting collaboration for me. Next.
11. Maison Martin Marginal – November 2012
This was probably the most not-so-magical moment for H&M since the inception of their designer collaborations. Smaller crowds were reported to have turned out for the collection’s debut. I can’t say I’m surprised, because it seems one has to be either an A$AP Rocky or Kanye West in order to pull off some of the looks from the collection.
12. Isabel Marant – November 2013
H&M described its collaboration with Isabel Marant as an influential and successful take on Paris chic, also citing her effortless style. “I wanted to create something real, that women want to wear in their everyday lives, with a certain carelessness, which is very Parisian”, the designer said in a press statement.
13. Alexander Wang – November 2014
As part of celebrating 10 years of their designer collaborations, H&M partners with Alexander Wang to create a “futuristic and edgy” collections, hugely influenced by sports. This collaboration also marked the first time the brand had teamed up with an American designer. To mark the generation’s digital progression, the collaboration was announced on Wang’s Instagram page, anchored by a campaign video, starring supermodels Joan Smalls, Isabeli Fontana, Natasha Poly and Andy Carroll. The collection was also celebrated through an Alexander Wang x H&M launch party, hosted in NYC, attended by a-listers such as Solange Knowles, Dakota Fanning and many others.
14. Balmain – November 2015This was undoubtedly the most popular designer pairing for H&M to date. The marketing of this campaign was next level, it was like nothing I have ever witnessed. “The interest for this launch has exceeded all previous collaboration, both in-store and online,” H&M Spokesperson Hacan Anderson toll Bloomberg. I can still feel the energy that was #HMBALMAINATION like it was yesterday, from the insane runway show, to the music video starring the #BalmainArmy Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls, Gigi Hadid and Jourdan Dunn. Everyone who is anyone was talking about the collaboration, thanks to the power of Influencer Marketing. Social media reporting tools showed that each of the celebrity models generated a buzz on social media for the campaign, demonstrating that H&M had in fact made the right choice to include them in the campaign.
What was also quite special about this collaboration is that it coincided with the local launches of the H&M stores in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. The Johannesburg launch was all the buzz, pulling big names such as Black Coffee, Bonang Matheba, Blogger Sarah Langa and Nomuzi Mabena.
15. Kenzo – November 2016
Which brings us to the latest designer collaborator, Parisian fashion house, Kenzo.The menswear collection reminds me of Trevor Stuurman, most of the pieces resemble his vibe and sadly, not everyone can pull off his aesthetic, except for him. I don’t know how I feel about the rest of the collection honestly. I’ll have to wait to see some of my faves in the pieces before I can make a call. H&M’s latest collaboration launches worldwide in selected stores and online on November 3rd, with the highly anticipated runway show taking place in NYC next week.