I’ve never stood in line for the opportunity to buy anything before. Not for the iPhone, not for Black Friday, I’ve never even been to DisneyWorld because my parents didn’t want to stand in line (and now as an adult I completely agree). I did camp out freshman year with some friends for Duke vs. University of Maryland basketball tickets before the school put the online lottery system in place to void the need or ability to purchase tickets in person at the field house box office and to avoid the ensuing people crush that resulted from the back of the line flooding the front of the line when the doors opened. Apparently a well-formed line means nothing to some people. I heard someone was trampled and had to go to the hospital; my friend lost her nice camping tent; it was bad news all around. But we got tickets.
So I had no intention of queuing up like these brave few in NYC for when the Isabel Marant (famous and expensive French designer) clothing line for the masses hit the H&M stores yesterday. I hadn’t even been into an H&M store in years. I followed along as the internet fervor of the past few months grew, with “what to buy when the stores open” articles and Instagram mayhem leading up to November 14th. Successfully ignoring the marketing and PR hype for as long as possible, I gave in the night of November 13th and opened one of the articles claiming to have pictures of each piece in the collection. Most of the clothes didn’t get me too excited, but then I saw this pair of silver sequined leggings, and I mean, who doesn’t need a pair of silver sequined leggings for the inevitable holiday party, New Year’s Eve soiree or Brittany Spears concert in Vegas? They would be cozy with an oversized winter-white angora cable-knit and silver flats, or rocked out with a shiny black, butt-skimming tank and patent leather platform pumps. My grandmother Honey would have been proud.
Photo from H&M
Forget that they were $200 (a fact of which I was unaware).
The H&M in the local mall doesn’t open until 10am, so I figured I would roll up at about quarter of, and damn my embarrassment for allowing myself to be media-bullied into this experience, I was going to march in, grab two sizes of these pants only and head straight for the dressing room. And if nothing else, I could say that for once in my life I stood in line for something completely unnecessary just because people were.
I got there at 9:45. The grate was closed. Some people were power walking up and down the mall, pushing strollers or chatting with coffees. No one was in front of H&M. Well of course not – the people who would shop at H&M are all in school or at work. A lady on her cell phone walked up and hovered outside of the closed gate. Then a pair of young women wandered over and stood to the other side. A middle aged woman peered through the shop window and took a seat to wait. A thirty-something guy came over, asked me if it opened at 10 and started pacing slowing in front of the store. I felt confident that my competition for sequined leggings would be slim.
As I waited for the grate to go up, I began to notice that there were no banners announcing the Isabel Marant collection, and there were no mannequins wearing the signature black and red jacket whose picture was literally everywhere online. That’s strange. It couldn’t be that this store doesn’t have the Isabel Marant collection, could it? I tried to Google which stores were carrying the line, but I couldn’t find a list anywhere and the Briarwood-Mall-Isabel-Marant-H&M Google search returned something that included all those words so that was promising.
Oh look! There are some rolled posters on the floor! Maybe the shop staff just hasn’t hung them in this window yet. Maybe this is one of those super stores with multiple levels and I’m not at the main entrance where the Isabel Marant clothes are showcased. Nevermind that this this mall is only one level. I’ll wait and see to be sure.
A staffer unlocked and rolled up the grate, and the shoppers slowly filtered in. No one seemed to be in a hurry except the young man, but he made a beeline to the men’s department. I did a lap. No sign of the sequined leggings. Well this is the Midwest, maybe the market for sequined leggings is so small they aren’t carrying that item. But then I saw a pair of H&M brand black jeans with black sequins all down the front – pretty cheap-looking, but at least my no-sparkle-in-the-Midwest theory was ill-conceived. People everywhere like sparkles of course.
But no Isabel Marant – no clothes, no signage, no nothing.
In a last ditch attempt to avoid admitting the inevitable – that they don’t have these clothes here – to myself, I asked a worker if they had or would be getting the line. Maybe in a smaller market they just get it a few days later, like the movie theaters? She laughed, no they wouldn’t be getting Isabel Marant, they don’t get any special lines, and actually nowhere in Michigan will be carrying it, you’d have to go to Chicago or Columbus. What!?!? Where am I? I have to go to another state? For leggings that I didn’t really even need or want until the night before? Forget it, I’m just going to go see what they have at Target. Which I did. Which was nothing in the sequined legging department. I did get this cute clutch though:
In reading today’s articles on the success (or failure) of the collection, it looks like a lot of people walked away empty-handed. The H&M website couldn’t handle the traffic and put shoppers in a virtual queue that resulted in “sold out” messages when they went to checkout and pay for the items in their carts. Whoops.
For me, in the end, I got the fun experience of (sort of) standing in line for the hot new trend and feeling like part of popular culture, and I saved myself $200. Or $175 after the clutch.