I Camped Out For Balmain x H&M And Lived to Tell the Tale
My friends and family were intrigued/horrified when I told them I was planning to wake up at the crack of dawn and travel to San Francisco for the grand launch of Balmain’s capsule collection at H&M.
I had meant it as a joke several weeks ago, but then my bloodthirsty, competitive side reared its ugly head and said, LET’S DO THIS.
I hadn’t waited hours in line for anything since the release of the fourth Harry Potter book, so this was a big deal for me. Balmain is one of my favorite designers. I adore Olivier Rousteing’s rock ‘n’ roll homage to the eighties (the decade my parents fell in love and launched a boutique in San Francisco) and the tough femininity of the shoulder-padded jackets. If staking out in the freezing cold meant a chance at nabbing one of their blazers, it would be worth every amputated toe.
I set my alarm for 3:30am, but I was so excited, I woke up a little earlier. An hour later, I was on the train to San Francisco. By 5am, I had made it to the Westfield mall on Powell St., where there was already a queue of about 20 or 30 people, some with foldup chairs and sleeping bags. The women at the front of the line had even brought an air mattress. I had read online that the first 420 people would be given bracelets to get in, so I was relieved I’d made the cut.
As the sun rose, I read my book and scanned the online catalogue for prices. As much as I wanted one of their signature pearl jackets or sequin dresses, beaded items cost about $500, so I set my heart on something more timeless: A long, double-breasted blazer with two rows of gold buttons. Better yet, it came at a lean $150.
At last, the doors opened and we lined up outside H&M on the third floor. The crowd applauded as the first group left the store and triumphantly stepped on to the escalator with massive shopping bags. One of the girls even yelled, “THANK YOU, BASED GOD!”
Finally, like an angel descending on Bethlehem, the staff told us it was our turn to shop. We were led through the store to the back, where we were given the rules:
Each group was given 15 minutes to browse, but once we were in the dressing room, our bracelets would be snipped off and we would no longer be allowed near the merchandise. No one was allowed to buy more than two of the same item.
And then, like a pack of wolves, we were unleashed. I made a beeline to the jackets, where I snatched up two blazers, then grabbed a biker jacket and a pair of leather pants.
I was surprised that the men’s section was pretty much sold out, while there was still a few women’s items left.
After trying on the jackets (and failing to squeeze into a pair of leather pants), I put on the double-breasted blazer.
And praise Yeezus, it fit! Even a size up, it was snug, but hugged all the right places. I delicately did up the gold buttons, and imagined wearing it as a dress with thigh-high boots. With my dark, curly hair down, and the thick shoulder pads, I looked like my mom from her days clubbing at the Oz in San Francisco. And just like that, our fate was sealed.
This jacket was coming home with me.
I was quickly swept up in the tide from dressing room to checkout, where I was given a garment bag for my new jacket.
Coming out of the store that morning, I felt like I had experienced Christmas and my birthday all at once. It was 9am, and I had a Balmain jacket in my size and all my toes were still intact.
I've attached some more of my pictures below, and an ad with Kendall Jenner vogueing on a metro.
Header image: BALMAIN X H&M