PARIS — Alexander Wang’s holiday collaboration with H&M arrived in stores on Thursday and drew crowds throughout Europe and the U.S.
The collection launched at 250 stores worldwide. Starting on Wednesday evening in Manhattan, shoppers lined up at its Fifth Avenue and 48th Street flagship, where products sold out in a matter of about 45 minutes the next day before replenishments were brought in. “As far as Wang sales, they exceeded all expectations, and we are very pleased,” said an H&M spokesman in the U.S.
The company declined to break out sales by specific market.
At the Swedish retailer’s Milan flagship near the Piazza San Babila, a crowd of predominantly twentysomething fashion students, carrying printouts of specific looks, formed a long line that stretched back to the neighboring Passarella Café.
H&M distributed its usual color-coded bracelets to groups of 20. Employees said the first bracelets were given around midnight on Wednesday to shoppers who had come armed with sleeping bags, while the last were distributed at 8:20 a.m. CET on Thursday.
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John Hadjiandreou, originally from Cyprus and a student at the Istituto Europeo di Design, snagged a bracelet at 2:30 a.m. with his friends Smaragda Petri and Emmeleia Vryttia of Greece, both students at the Marangoni fashion institute. “We are great fans of Alexander Wang. We appreciate his style,” Hadjiandreou said, noting that the trio had learned about the new collection online and were hunting for jackets, bags and sweatshirts.
A die-hard disciple of H&M designer collections, Alfonso Reda said he had been to many of them, from Versace and Maison Martin Margiela in Milan — “I was the first one in line there” — to Isabel Marant in Montreal. On Thursday, Reda arrived at 6:30 a.m. to be sure he could get the black sweatshirt he had spotted online.
According to the Milan store manager, 50 H&M sales associates were on hand for the day, up from the usual 30.
In Paris on Wednesday night, H&M hosted a VIP shopping party — complete with a DJ set by Cassius, Belvedere cocktails and other surprises — at its sprawling, three-level new flagship store on Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Model Jarrod Scott’s biceps bulged as he lugged two large shopping bags full of Wang finds, while Anna Cleveland vamped for photographers in a locker, part of the gymnasium mise-en-scène for the American designer’s collaboration collection.
“I work out, so I might find something new in the gym gear,” said hairstylist John Nollet. “I don’t box yet, but maybe I’ll take it up,” he added, eyeing the black leather boxing gloves on display.
Nollet reported that the July launch of his haute couture hair accessories was a success and that he will be introducing three new accessories, including his first two luxury ready-to-wear designs, at the Paris concept store Colette in December.
A sprinkling of actresses, ballet dancers, musicians and socialites also scoped out the store, including Roxane Mesquida, Jérémie Bélingard, Pedro Winter and Georgina Brandolini.
The next day, at the Boulevard Haussmann store in Paris, fans started lining up at around 5 a.m., fueled by coffee and croissants provided by H&M. All morning, there was a little bit more than an hour wait to get in.
By midday, parkas, beanies and most of the accessories were sold out. Gray sweaters with the designer’s initials were also a hit, both for women and men.
In London, about 500 people were queued up at the H&M flagship in Oxford Circus. “We think it’s probably the biggest and best designer collaboration so far, in terms of the response,” said an H&M U.K. spokeswoman. “I think it’s very on-trend, street-style sports luxe. And, also, slightly lower price points on lots of items, so people are buying more of it, I think. People can afford to buy more pieces than, say, [items from] maybe Margiela or Isabel Marant, which were quite expensive.”