H&M Shoppers are Freaking Out Over its Latest High-Fashion Partnership

November 5, 2015, 7:08 PM UTC
Customers empty an H&M store in Florence, Italy during its Balmain For H&M Collection launch.
Customers empty an H&M store in Florence, Italy during its Balmain For H&M Collection launch.
Photograph by Laura Lezza — Getty Images

Fast-fashion retailer H&M’s collection with French luxury brand Balmain has led to a ruckus at retail stores, a crashed website, and price gouging on eBay’s website—all in the first day of the line’s launch.

The collection, which debuted on the runway last month in New York, is available in around 250 stores globally as well as online starting Thursday. The launch led to long lines at H&M’s stores, where scuffles broke out as shoppers clamored to scoop up $129 leather and faux fur jackets and $599 beaded velvet dresses. To witness the scenes at various stores, Gawker has complied a colorful collection of videos of how Balmain’s H&M debut was received.

Earlier Thursday, H&M’s website failed to load as it too was overwhelmed, which the retailer attributed to high interest in the new collection. The company’s website is running smoothly again.


The tie-in marks the latest high-profile partnership between a mass retailer and a luxury label. Balmain’s dresses can cost north of $2,000 each at luxury stores like Neiman Marcus, but at H&M, its trendy dresses and jackets generally priced between $150 and $600. Many of the pricier items have already sold out online.

H&M’s collaboration with Balmain is the latest in a string of its successful collections with luxury designers, an initiative that first began in 2004 when the chain worked with Karl Lagerfeld. H&M has since worked with Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Stella McCartney, and Alexander Wang. The partnership lines, a strategy also popularized by big-box retailer Target (TGT), allows designers a chance to reach a broader audience of shoppers.

Rollouts of short-lived haven’t gone smoothly for other retailer as well. Earlier this year, Target’s website was crashed by shoppers trying to snap up fashions in its collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer.

The partnerships also generate a secondary market on websites like eBay (EBAY). A leather jacket that H&M is selling for $399, already sold out online, is listed at $2,000 on eBay. Prices are also vastly higher for many of the Balmain dresses in the H&M collection. As Fortune sister publication Money points out, H&M tried to limit the resale market by only allowing shoppers to purchase one item per product from the collection.