Thursday, 13 November 2008

CDG for H&M: and then there was none

Huge anticipation for the fifth annual designer collection at H&M this year from arguably one of the most conceptual and respected designers around Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons. Actually this is the cleverest collaboration yet - H&M's choice to not just throw advertising money at its two Tokyo store launches and Japan debut there this autumn, but create a natural localised promotion that talks to a wide (and new) customer base both there and globally. Japanese marketing website Mekas covered the Ginza opening back in September and called it the news of the month.

“I thought it would be an exciting event to work with H&M in order to sell Comme des Garçons clothes in places where they have never been sold and to appeal to people who may not yet understand Comme des Garçons. Marrying the commercial expertise of H&M with Comme des Garçons creation was a fascinating challenge", says Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons.

“This collection really reflects Kawakubo’s creative spirit and integrity. It is complete with the designer’s trademark, independent style and clever cuts - elaborate tailoring, shirts, knits and a series of playful jersey pieces in dramatic black and midnight blue with accents of white and rose”, says H&M’s Creative Advisor Margareta van den Bosch.

So the preview launch day in Tokyo (a full six days ahead of the rest of the world) produced the expected crowds and usual queues of Japanese fashionistas - but we weren't sure if it was because it was CDG for H&M or because it was H&M and it was new. Or even because it was Hara-juku and that's what they do there every Saturday. Some even queued days in advance to get their hands on the limited edition collection.

That was a clear signal to the rest of the world to prepare to shop the collection early. So after the lookbook went on-line a full month in advance and the preview windows went on display a few days in advance there were no excuses.

But who knew so many London based Japanese CDG fans would be there bright and early to snaffle all the top pieces. They obviously started queuing the night before! Polite but deadly!

However I got most of my wish-list: the spotty cardigan and matching scarf, frilled sleeve blouse, perfect peg-leg length jodpur trousers and the asymmetric hem jacket. I loved the panel-front and frill stitch coat but alas there weren't any to be seen.

As this H&M designer shopping frenzy is always near by birthday it's an annual ritual/ treat but this was my favourite - in some ways because there was only one merch drop so in true Rei style this is very limited edition and also because it paved a seamless and credible path for the retailer into the hallowed Japanese retail market.

We've said it before and we may say it again but how to top this one?

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