Nov 17, 2012

Margiela with H&M Kuala Lumpur: self-restraint and sentiments

We have been tweeting the launch of Maison Martin Margiela with H&M collection launch last Thursday and naturally, the experience is meant to be extended into a full-fledged blog entry. Comparing my past experience with the Marni x H&M launch in Singapore I thought that the event in Kuala Lumpur this time was 'calmer' in general. Perhaps the reason being the label is not as well-known as Versace or Lanvin in this part of the world (both of them also had successful joint venture with H&M), and the fact that the designer himself is relatively an elusive entity even when he was still being the creative head for his eponymous brand, leading to a rather 'insider-only' awareness not only amongst KL-ites, but to the global customers in general as well. This all happened despite classical H&M mass marketing especially online. (Additionally the marketing strategy included two gigantic ad banners hanging off the PERKESO building at Jalan Tun Razak).

Perhaps the mass marketing is marred by the paradoxical fact that they were barely any press whatsoever during the day of the launch itself. In fact, we think we were only among the few camera-touting persons who were around, and not to mention the rudeness of the security guard who shooed us away while we were attempting to photograph the action happening inside H&M's ground floor.

Ignore the combined possibilities of Martin Margiela as an obscure designer/steep price by H&M standards (but the fabrics and cuts, as we pointed out in our previous posts, are miles better then your average H&M product)/assumingly unsuccessful marketing, but the turnout that day was undeniably dismal. The display area even felt much smaller compared to my experience at Marni x H&M. Of course I'm putting down a sweeping generalisation based on my observations in this case. The queue did start exceptionally early, with the first batch of shoppers lined up as early as five p.m the day before (with PR extraordinaire Amri Rahim and GLAM Lelaki Editor Azreezal Hafidz among the early birds...). I arrived at five minutes before seven a.m - just in time for the handing out of the color-coded wristbands. But get this: I still managed to get into among the first eighty people in line for the launch, just when I thought I could be well at the end of the 250-limited spots.

The doors opened at eight o'clock and the first batch of shoppers had the first dibs on the re-edition items. I initially did a mental note of potential wishlist pieces that I wanted to purchase - the trompe l'oeil effect jumpers, a white shirt, a black sheeny lining shirt/blouse, the classic white Margiela sneakers, and of course, the items that belong to the ladies section: baggy bleached-out denim trousers and its tailored woolen version.

Whilst waiting for my turn and estimating what will be left by the time I entered it dawned on me that I did not need most of the pieces that I initially intended to acquire. I have a plenty of white shirts already. And the sneakers? I can pass.

Seeing how fast those items selling out in front of my very own eyes made me rethink of the high-low concept in today's retail scene, partially due to the Eugene Rabkin's article on The Business of Fashion. The article was controversial, so much so it garnered commentators who are basically divided into two camps - the ones who are pro and the ones who are against designer and high street partnerships, specifically the Margiela and H&M project. I'm certainly on the 'pro' side of the fence as personally 1) I do not have a savings account bursting with money, hence I see designer-high street collabs as a way to feel what it is like wearing the real deal; 2) brands like Margiela and Comme des Garçons are cool and that coolness is fundamentally what fashion labels endlessly project to consumers, in order to maximise retail; 3) the young individuals who seemingly buy 'cheap' high-street stuff are inevitably the next generation that will potentially purchase the authentic designer items in the future.

After contemplating the above-mentioned and weighing in the facts that most of the items that I wanted are either a)sold out in their sizes or b)fit me shabbily in-person, I ended up purchasing only the washed-out baggy denim pants and the shiny lining shirt. On the contrary, Arman managed to apply self-restraint and left the building empty-handed (kudos to him for such firm discipline). All in all it was a good and memorable experience, mostly thanks to the appropriate 'reenactments' of Margiela way of retail which suggests novelty effects: white engraved hangers and pristine plain paper bags; trompe l'oeil effects of the interiors and window displays; and the sight of white aprons on the H&M staff (clearly a substitution of the white coat)...

words by Hafidzudin


thompsonboy said...

To be honest, I only wanted the hospital bracelet from 6 years wasnt expensive but then again 6 years ago, I wasn't rich. Now I can't get it anymore...sob sob

naboonies said...

thompsonboy, interesting Margiela article you're eyeing there! Apparently the accessories were the ones snapped up during the launch. I myself couldn't get the faceless watch.

P/S: Seeing images of that metal hospital bracelet brings up memories from my hospital stint :)

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