Why Kenzo is the Smartest Collaboration H&M Has Had in Years


Why Kenzo is the Smartest Collaboration H&M Has Had in Years


At this point thirsty shoppers would slay their BFF for whatever crappy collaboration H&M shoves in its stores. Luckily this time around it might actually be worth it. The mega-chain announced earlier today that its next collab is with Kenzo, the French luxury brand helmed by Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon.

Before I get into why this is a match made in retail heaven, let’s take a look at the last few designer H&M mashups.

Last fall we had Balmain, undoubtedly the most hyped collaboration to date. The campaign featured of-the-moment superstars Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner and shoppers exhibited disturbing behavior as they tried to get their hands on the over-embellished duds.

The clothes themselves, however, were pretty crappy. Rather than come up with brand new designs that embodied the aesthetic and spirit of the house translated to a mainstream audience, Olivier Rousteing simply offered watered down versions of his luxury line, mass produced in cheaper fabrics. And the worst part was they were still expensive; a dress would run you about $400.

Before Balmain there was Alexander Wang. This was fine. Here we saw original pieces that were distinctively Wangian (many even had the designer’s name emblazoned on them), but still, I’d rather spend a little more and buy actual T by Alexander Wang garments than wait outside in the cold for four hours to buy a Wang x H&M neoprene sweatshirt, am I right?

And before that there was Isabel Marant, which made sense at the time because people were still wearing those fugly wedge sneakers. Don’t get me wrong, Marant makes some nice garments, but these are not innovative designs. Some of H&M’s fancier pieces could pass for real Isabel Marant, so why folks bothered shelling out designer-collab prices for this hippie dippy garbage I do not know.

So why will Kenzo trump them all (good trump, not bad Trump)?

The brand is defined by loud prints in sporty fabrics, which will translate brilliantly to a mass audience. I predict a Kenzo x H&M sweatshirt will be just as dope as its $500 counterpart at a fraction of the cost. At the same time, Lim and Leon are smart enough to differentiate the two, so as not to dilute the value of their street style-friendly main line. The clothes stand to be distinctive, wearable and, most of all, affordable—everything an H&M designer collaboration should be.

The only way they stand to fail is by neglecting to adapt their sizing to a mass market. I wear a medium in most sweatshirts but when it comes to Kenzo an XL is still snug.

Still, come November, this collection may just be worth the hype.