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Muted Excitement for Marni at H&M

Collection attracted thousands of shoppers worldwide Thursday for the launch of its one-off collaboration.

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It may not have the star power of Versace, or the sex appeal of Jimmy Choo and Roberto Cavalli, but Marni still attracted thousands of shoppers worldwide Thursday morning for the launch of its one-off collaboration with Hennes & Mauritz.

Design lovers, Marni devotees and bargain hunters gathered outside 260 H&M stores in the early hours of Thursday to get a piece of the women’s and men’s clothing and accessories collections designed by Marni’s founder Consuelo Castiglioni for the Swedish mass market retailer.

It wasn’t the high-energy, desperate-to-buy atmosphere that greeted Versace’s, Stella McCartney’s or Jimmy Choo’s H&M collaborations, but a more civilized, laid-back one.

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In Milan, the crowds began queuing in the early hours of Thursday at the H&M on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Carolina Castiglioni, the founder’s daughter who edits the company’s blog, was there well before opening time at 9 a.m.

“It’s really great and incredible how much enthusiasm there is in the air,” she said as she took pictures of people queuing and asked them to leave comments on placards. “We are doing this to understand what people think of both this initiative and Marni,” she said.

Outside H&M’s Boulevard Haussmann store in Paris, customers started queuing at 4 a.m. Some 500 people were waiting when the store opened at 9:30 a.m., and most had preselected the items they wanted to purchase online in the run-up to the launch. In London, customers began lining up outside the Regent Street store at 3 a.m. to get their timed entry wristbands, and wandered off for coffee and breakfast before returning for their allocated time slot.

An H&M spokeswoman said many of the U.K. stores had sold out by Thursday afternoon, while others had only limited stock available. Much of the merchandise was also sold out online.

The collaboration was a hit in Seoul, but received a lukewarm reception in Shanghai, possibly reflecting the brand’s lack of name recognition in China. At least 400 people were lined up outside each of the four H&M stores in Seoul on Thursday morning, with shoppers starting to form queues on Wednesday.

In Shanghai, the queues barely stretched around the block. People waited, at most, for a couple of hours rather than for the entire night.

Instead, the rather demure crowd outside the H&M store on Huaihai Lu, a popular shopping street, consisted of a fair share of young Chinese working in various creative industries — fashion designers, brand strategists or artists.

In the U.S., the collection launched in 26 U.S. stores from New York to Los Angeles and from Dallas to Salt Lake City. “There’s not much women’s product left,” according to Nicole Christie, H&M communications manager. “By lunch, we were almost sold out of women’s wear.” Stores have some men’s styles left, but the majority of men’s wear sold out by 2 p.m., Christie said, adding that bestsellers included silk pieces and gold brocade items as well as jewelry.

“Marni is not a household name, but people have an appreciation for it,” said Christie. “There’s a better understanding of labels with the advent of the Internet. You would expect New York and L.A. to do well, but we’ve had great results from all over the country. Seattle is almost all sold out. Marni is right up there as a best-selling launch.”

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