PARIS – Nearly three months after it was first announced, the Lanvin (Hearts) H&M collection finally hit stores worldwide, drawing long lines of shoppers from Paris to Tokyo, including dozens who camped outside overnight.
However, expected scenes of pandemonium failed to materialize after H&M put in place a new system of color-coded wristbands that allowed customers inside in small groups, making for a much more organized shopping experience than for previous designer collaborations.
To ease the wait, H&M staff in Milan served fresh croissants and orange juice to the 250 people queuing outside the San Babila flagship. In rainy Tokyo, the store teams handed out umbrellas to those without them. In Paris, the first 200 shoppers through the doors at the Boulevard Haussmann store were rewarded with a scarf and a canvas tote.
Shoppers in the French capital were mostly good-humored despite the cold weather, though the excitement was palpable, as many had been plotting their shopping strategy for weeks.
“As soon as the photos appeared on the Internet, I pounced on them,” said Stéphanie Lucas, a lingerie pattern maker.
On the Champs-Elysées, several hundred shoppers stood penned in behind crowd control barriers at dawn, ready for the 8 a.m. store opening.
Prisca Legrand, co-founder of upstart fashion magazine Like That, said she had several original Lanvin dresses in her closet but still splashed out on several more. “The quality is not the same,” she noted. “But I thought it was a fun concept, and it’s affordable for everyone.”
The scene in Tokyo was more subdued than for previous H&M designer collaborations, despite the fact that the launch fell on a public holiday. The first customers began lining up outside the Shibuya store in Tokyo on Monday afternoon, numbering around 280 by the time the store opened at 10 a.m. today, an hour earlier than usual.
Office worker Kaori Kodera and two of her friends arrived outside the store at about 11:30 p.m. on Monday and spent a sleepless night on foldable chairs, staving off hunger with potato chips and instant soup. Kodera had her heart set on a pair of leopard-print pumps. “I like the party style,” she said. “I plan to wear the shoes out to clubs.”
In Tokyo, the most popular items were T-shirts, faux fur jackets, shoes and accessories, but many of the line’s signature dresses remained on the racks virtually untouched.
The men’s section, which did not require a wristband to enter, was a much more chaotic experience. Shoppers eagerly snatched suits and accessories off the racks, even knocking over one of the mannequins in the process.
In Milan, dentist Laura Ginestra flew in from Pescara, 375 miles away, for the launch. “I would never have missed the opportunity to buy a dress designed by Alber Elbaz,” she said. Biotechnology student Marco Tracogna, 21, confessed he was there for his girlfriend. “I don’t know exactly what I have to buy, but she compiled a list,” he said grimly.
“I’m very impressed by this collaboration,” said Chantal Berkel, an interior designer from the Netherlands. But architecture student Alex Mohebbi seemed to be a bit disappointed. “I was expecting more from Lanvin, a brand that I truly adore,” he said.
In London, around 200 people stood in line at 8.30 a.m. at the Oxford Circus flagship, including some hardcore shoppers who pitched tents on the street the previous evening.
The outfits had cross-generational appeal: One woman said she planned to buy the pink one-shouldered dress to wear on her wedding day, while another hoped to snap up a long-sleeved black dress for her 60th birthday party.