I love a high-low collaboration as much as the next fashion enthusiast. I write about them. I get excited about them. I think they’re smart and fabulous.
However, after Wednesday’s Marni at H&M’s invite-only shopping event, I can safely say this: Shoppers, I think we’ve gone too far.
Let it be said that Marni has distinct high-fashion cache and its collection for the mass market retailer was far and away the best one yet, so naturally, fashion insiders were clamoring for a piece (or three) of the action, myself included.
What I witnessed, however, was a storm for which the word “madhouse” was invented.
The doors to the event opened at 7 p.m. and by 7:06, virtually every shelf and rack was barren and women were in wild-eyed Dionysian frenzies, toppling over under the weight of their loads, grabbing stacks of identical garments and shoving them into their sacks.
What really gave me the most clarity was when I admired a lone dress on a corner rack, which I had no intention of buying. It wasn’t even close to my size, I was simply admiring its silky construction. A shopper yanked it out of my grip so hard that the hanger split and cut my finger and blood was drawn. And she didn’t even say sorry!
The blood was my cue to leave (OK fine, not so much leave as go to the in-store bar, where I gawked at the scene from the sidelines, glass of wine playing the role of popcorn).
Then I realized: We, in all our urbane glory, have no right to look down on those heartland Americans whom we hear trample each other at Best Buy on Black Friday. We’re no different. We’re just doing it for a pair of purple and gold jacquard trousers, not a portable Blu-Ray or a couple of HDMI cables or whatever.
I’m a retail activist of the highest order: I love to shop and make no apologies for it. You’ll never hear me saying “It’s only clothes!” But the behavior I witnessed was scary, almost satirical. Instead of a civilized shopping event where privileged insiders contentedly accessed a piece or two from a buzzy collection before the masses, it turned into a Darwinian survival-fest, clearly evidenced by the Band-Aid wrapped around my forefinger and my non-existent shopping bags. If insiders have to fight to score pieces from these so-called accessible lines, you kinda have to wonder: What’s the point?