Hold onto your body stockings, tabi boots, and wig coats because—wait for it—H&M is collaborating with Maison Martin Margiela! The high fashion-cum-high street collaborationist just announced the collection and released two teaser videos onto their YouTube page. The collection, releasing November 15th for Autumn/Winter, has created an obviously polarizing response from the fashion folk of the interwebz kind. What are the ultra-exclusive conceptual designs of Margiela doing with the mass production of H&M?! For now, we don’t know yet. No images of the collection, for both men and women, have been released. Still, the conflict between keeping the white paint of Margiela pure from the hands of the masses creeps into the minds of the fashion conscious.
Let’s rewind. There’s an ongoing trend of the trend, in which one prescient designer introduces an idea and slowly other designers will follow suit. Right now, one example is Phoebe Philo’s Céline and it shows in Resort 2013’s widespread obsession with minimalism and scarf prints. In 2007, Marigela did the same for the strong shoulder silhouette. Culminating in Fall 2009, the strong shoulder introduced a 1980s influence that permeated throughout fashion. Don’t forget 2009’s Balmainia, Marc Jacobs + Louis Vuitton, and the infamous Zara blazers featured in every important street style image of the season. When the fast fashion retail stores are doing the same, collaboration is a survival tactic. Instead of letting the customer get the look for less and making no profit, the partnering of a major fashion brand and an affordable range helps both sides. Essentially the look for less, no knockoffs required. Plus, the swirling buzz around these collaborations helps give endless promotion to the brand in question. Even with just this simple announcement, we’re sitting here talking and writing about it just as every fan and major voice in fashion tweets, blogspot posts, and tumblr reblogs their varying opinions about H&M(&MMM).
What’s all the fuss about? The high-art ways of Maison Martin Margiela attract a fanbase that is everything fast fashion isn’t. But the main reason Margiela is exclusive is not because of its price point. It’s about exclusivity in design, in taste, and in intellect. The reason the brand isn’t everyone’s cup of tea is because it’s avant garde and conceptual. Giving it a collaboration at H&M isn’t going to change that. It may be a way to give the design admirers who can’t afford actual Margiela a piece of that culture. Even though the designs will most likely be much more commercial than a coat made of tinsel, that doesn’t deteriorate the idea or basis of the brand more or less than anything else the brand has done after Martin Margiela has left it. As a cult-creating brand, Margiela is inviting the already-converted a way to delve deeper into their world and finally feeling even a little bit a part of that club in real life as opposed to afar admiration. There’s an inner turmoil when as a fashion community, we complain that the masses “don’t get us” or “shouldn’t wear such faux pas,” but we also crave that exclusivity and knowing there’s that special secret that we know and most others won’t. During this year’s CFDA Awards, host Seth Meyers remarked, “we all know fashion people love hating things more than they like liking things.” Truth be told.
The oh so important fashion secret is precisely what’s making such a fashion frenzy. Margiela is historically secretive, especially when under its original designer, but times (and this brand’s designers) have changed. Collaborations are inevitable, and the commercialism of a brand lauded for conceptualism is bound to happen when it becomes more a business than one man’s creative outlet. While that sounds sad, it can also be a blessing in disguise. If the brand is changing, more people benefitting sounds like a great idea. The truth of the matter is, you are in power of your fashion consumption. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. Like 2005’s Stella McCartney for H&M ad proclaims, “it’s only fashion!” As for us, we’ll judge when we see the designs.