This morning, the Daily Transom hustled over to the H&M on Fifth Avenue and 51st Street where at 8:30 or so, a huddled mass of around 250 shivering Comme des Garcons enthusiasts were shuffling around outside. They were waiting for the 9 a.m. debut of Rei Kawakubo‘s special, low-priced line for H&M, and many of them had been in line for hours.
Before the doors opened, several line-standers were overheard wondering whether the line’s Japanese eclecticism could possibly fit onto the typically toned-down, moderately priced shelves of H&M. (Especially considering that Ms. Kawakubo created a Comme des Garcons fall 2008 line that included "puffballs of tulle in red and cotton-candy pink, hairnet veils, leopard-spot hats, and lattices of elasticized satin-frilled garter straps.")
Once we got inside, we spoke with H&M spokesperson Jennifer Ugliaoro about Ms. Kawakubo’s aesthetic.
"We really wanted to be Comme des Garcons to the roots. We’ve tied in the polka dots, the bias cuts–it’s really the tailoring that makes it different. That showpiece dress," she said, pointing to a gargantuan wall hanging print of a modeled version of the dress. "Sold out in like the first four seconds after we opened the door. It went to the first people in line."
She added: "We have also really tried to keep to the H&M price points–not too over the top, especially in this economy." We were interrupted when the Daily Transom was snagged by somebody’s fly-away clothes-hanger hook (for the fifth or sixth time).
We asked if she’d seen any fighting.
"Oh, well, at an event like this there’s always a cat-fight where two different people hold on to the same item and pull. But to be honest, this is New York, it’s no different than a sample sale," said Ms. Ugliaoro.
Before leaving, we spoke with a customer who looked completely ambivalent about the event.
"Well," he said, shrugging, "it was crazy in Japan. People slept in front of the store for three days!" He shifted his mound of shirts to show us three fingers.
He’s Japanese and in his twenties, buying clothes for a friend before work, and wanted to remain anonymous. "But in Japan, it’s made in Japan. This stuff’s made in China," he said, fingering the tag from one of his shirts and laughing. "Why would you want this shit?"