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  • Stefan Howarth

H&M announces its new designer collaboration, but do we actually care?

As the new designer collaboration with H&M was announced to very little fanfare, I couldn't help but wonder, have we finally outgrown the hype? I must admit, that after past seasons of angst and stress of trying to shop previous H&M collaborations, I have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Mainly due to parcels that never actually arrived to items selling out faster than I could grab them, the whole process, hype, and anticlimax have left me avoiding the collaborations as if it were another Boohoo scandal. At the time, it was all part of the hype, it was like a blood sport trying to shop the legendary collaborations, bagging pieces that most people never actually wore but you definitely treasured, but 17 years later after the first collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, the world is in a completely different place.

We are now living in a world where fast fashion is frowned upon, and not to mention we are currently living in a pandemic that has ravished the way we live, work and spend, possibly forever. Yet, H&M have gone ahead and launched its next collaboration. The lack of hype makes me wonder whether we all have better things on our mind, perhaps staying alive being one of them, trying not to contract the virus sweeping across the world. Or perhaps we are too busy desperately trying to make our mortgage payments, with a huge percentage of businesses now forced to close due to government restrictions, are we really in a place to shop another fast fashion collaboration? Or will this move be welcomed as an avoidance factor for everyday people forgetting their problems? Time and sales figures will tell on this.

However, putting aside the current global woes there's another factor that makes me question the future success of these H&M collaborations, the fact we as a nation are turning our backs on poor quality fast-fashion. I have shopped these collaborations since I got swept up in the hype with Versace for H&M. I even muscled my way into the Marni at H&M pre-launch with British Vogue as I was so engrossed with the hype, and I drunkenly splashed £1,000 in a champagne haze on the full collection. In reality however, these pieces of clothes are literally highstreet quality, they will not last season upon season and trust me, me and my washing machine have put this to the test. The whole process originally was to bring us designer styling and cuts at highstreet prices, but this seems to have been lost with the fast fashion machine, with many collaborations consisting of logo jumpers and tee's. Yes you can bag an amazing find, I am not disputing that, but when have you ever actually seen these worn in daily life. Those Versace dresses? I have only ever seen them in Instagram posts, or how-about those Giambatista Valli pieces? Again, spotted on a celebs back and in an Instagram post but never seen in the wild. This makes me wonder, with so much hype, are we simply buying these average quality pieces just to be seen in them once, to join the hype, to be with the "in crew"? only for the clothes to then stay in our wardrobe, or end up on ebay with a 50% markup?

This leads me to the shoppers that are simply looking to make money, with such hype these collaborations are often purchased just to be resoled to unhappy customers that were left disappointed at huge mark-ups, to those people, you're scum! There is nothing worse than a big build up, for a collection to sell out and appear on ebay. Those customers that genuinely wanted to bag a piece they'd love, to only miss out because some annoying prick wants to make some money. Its disappointing, frustrating, and ain't nobody got time for thatttt!

Lastly, lets discuss the fashion environment we now live in. Back in 2004 fashion was a different world, people did not shop online like they do now, and they were less aware of the impact fashion had on the environment. People embraced the collaborations as it meant they could bag fashion that was once unattainable with a designer aesthetic. It was new, it was fresh, and we all went for it! Its now 2021 however, and the world is shopping smarter, we now care deeply how our clothes are made, the impact on human life and the environment our choices cause, not to mention, due to the internet we now have access to designer cuts, and quality at a click of a button, and we are more willing to spend the extra to gain a REAL quality piece over an H&M item with a new label. A typical H&M collab item can cost £69 to £199 for a clothing piece, seems normal right? Well for those prices you can buy a second hand Christian Dior jacket that will last season upon season, and many of us are!

The whole concept of these collaborations with H&M, from the limited quantities, panic shopping, anticlimax and disappointing quality now seems dated in 2021. With the use of the internet, the knowledge of what fast fashion does to the world, is it time to break-up with these shopping gimmicks and collaboration hype forever? and here I am at my first question, H&M has announced its new designer collaboration, but do we actually care?