The Balmain x H&M collection has received a lot of hype surrounding its November 5 release, so much so that the term “Balmainia” became a buzzword across several social media channels. The term Balmainia, however, sounds like a gross understatement when applied to what transpired in London when the Balmain x H&M collection was released Thursday on Regent Street.
The New York Times broke the story Friday that around 3,000 shopping hopefuls waited in line for the H&M flagship store to open its doors. The anticipation for the release of the Balmain x H&M collection at the Regent Street store was so high that at least 500 shoppers had slept outside overnight.
At around 8:00 am, 30 minutes before the doors of the H&M store were scheduled to open, two dozen men reportedly forced their way into the front of the queue, causing dismay among those who waited in line. Unfortunately for them, security was lacking at the time of the incident.
“I have traveled from Bulgaria, been here since 9 p.m. last night, and I just want a single piece — that jacket — my heart is set on it,” said Darina Stefanova, who endured freezing fits in the morning to have her 10-minute opportunity to shop at the H&M store. “But with the madness that’s started unfolding, I’m not sure I’ll get my wish. It’s the fault of these men,” she whispered, pointing at a group of hooded men at the entrance. “Things are starting to get dangerous.”
Ryan Fong, a student at City University London, said that he was pushed out of the line when the chaos ensued.
“They are professional gangs, you know, and this is a strategy they have preplanned. They get in first, buy up all the products, then flog it for five times the price on eBay. They are scary men, and I don’t want to get in their way.”
The situation became even more tense as tempers flared and insults were thrown around. The hooded men who bulled their way into the front of the line stayed defiant and maintained their positions. The police eventually arrived, removing about a dozen of them, although most stayed defiant. To better manage the queue, staff members created separate lines for men and women. When the doors of the H&M store finally opened, the throng of shoppers whooped and cheered as they barreled through the entrance, hoping to pick through the Balmain x H&M collection.
One woman who took the day off from work to catch the Balmain x H&M collection release wasn’t so lucky.
“It’s just outrageous; this has been so badly managed it is absolutely disgusting,” she said.
One of the H&M staff gave her a perfume sample for compensation, explaining that opening the doors was out of the question on account of the huge crowd waiting at the entrance.
Later that day, an H&M spokesperson said that the company decided not to open the H&M store “until we were certain we could ensure the safety of our staff and customers, which is always our priority.”
It’s interesting to note that, even before the H&M store in Regent Street was opened, some shoppers from a couple of blocks away were seen carrying huge duffel bags. One woman clad in expensive clothing admitted that she had paid someone 50 pounds to wait in line for her. She even posted her Balmain x H&M collection loot on Instagram to followers before she left, according to the Times. “What a bargain that was,” she said.
[Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images]