Balmain X H&M
Bo Develius Wears Balmain Spring/Summer 2015 in Fashion for Men Editorial.
Balmain, the luxurious Parisian haute couture house is finally launching the capsule collection with H&M that was promised months ago at the Billboard Music Awards in Vegas. But after years of financial struggling and when it is finally coming back from its ashes, is it a good idea to associate the exclusive name Balmain with the mass-market H&M?
Let's take a look at the pros and cons:
The main reason that moves a brand to pair up with a fast fashion company like H&M is the same that motivated other fashion like Versace, Come Des Garçons and Alexander Wang to do it: Brand Awareness. In the end all brands/personalities know that when partnering with H&M the outcome will be “tons” of free advertising through press coverage and being able to raise awareness among young fashion conscious women with a low purchasing power, hoping that they will turn into customers in the next 20 years after reaching a stable career or achieving a high purchasing power in any other way.
Photo from "How to Spend It" editorial by stylist Damian Foxe and photographer Andrew Yee, 2013.
But I personally believe that this is not the right path to popularity, specially because it feels that they are sacrificing current clients for long term hopes (and lets be honest, most of the people buying the capsule collection will not be able to buy Balmain in 20, 30 or 40 years), especially because there are other ways to reach actual potential clients that do not involve diluting the Balmain brand.
And overall that’s what it comes down to: diluting a brand that might not have roots deep enough to stand this fast fashion storm and keep the ultra luxury feeling, because let me be honest, when I think about Balmain my mind goes to the high embroidered jackets and dresses, to a thought of excess and glamour that I would put on the same level as Chanel or Dior (Yes, I think Balmain has the power to be like Chanel in the future and that Olivier Rousteing can become the Karl Lagerfeld for the next generation). I believe that their most valuable clients think the same and giving to the masses a product labelled Balmain will just deter the current customer from buying again. Another problem that I spot is for the non-customers that they are trying to target, they will buy a Balmain branded product for the first time and it will not reflect at all what Balmain or any other luxury brand stands for, not only the service but also the extreme quality that a 400€ jacket does not have compared to the ones on the runway that sell for several thousands.
Bianca Balti in Balmain for the editorial "Kiss of the Matador" on Vogue Japan , January 2012.
Overall I think that Balmain should stick to their current strategy and be creative and irreverent doing digital and not down selling its brand when they have such a strong heritage that can take them to the level of Dior or Chanel.
"Profile of H&M: A Pioneer of Fast Fashion" - Reasearch & Markets, 2007.