I caught a glimpse of some of the carnage caused by the release of Balmain x H&M collaboration via this Racked post, and my first reaction was: how disgusting.
Sure, Balmain—and even to an extent H&M, fast fashion as it may be—makes beautiful stuff. And their collaborative pieces are fantastic. But this is simply Black Friday, dressed up in a fancier outfit.
Of course, it’s easy to point fingers at places like Walmart and the people who trudge there at an ungodly hour, still full from Thanksgiving turkey and pie, while we sit back and smugly sip on $20 bottles of Santa Margherita in our parents’ living rooms—then shrug our shoulders when we turn and do the same thing whenever H&M releases a capsule collection. I say ‘we,’ loosely meaning people who don’t regularly or ever shop at Walmart or haggle over flat screen televisions, but who might take a gamble on something like Balmain (or the idea of Balmain, since this is still technically mass retail) scored on the cheap. To an extent, it doesn’t matter, because we’re all consumers, and in the United States particularly, we’re consumers of the highest regard.
No matter what’s on the table, when there’s a mad dash for stuff—and really, that’s all it is: stuff—the sentiment is the same: we want it—televisions, deep-cut sequined dresses, iPhones—for the posterity of saying we’re the first to get it. We don’t even need to say it; just wearing (or displaying on Instagram) is enough to spark what we hope is envy in others, and a sense of pride in ourselves. A way to say, ‘Hey, look at me! I was a warrior and here is my reward for having waited outside a retail store on a camping chair for six-plus hours, instead of doing things that would have enhanced my life, like sleeping and having sex and being a human being.’
In other words, we’re thirsty. And retailers have, and will continue, to use that panting-dog psychology to their advantage until we wake up, wise up, and get off of the hamster wheel of needing to accumulate more to prove ourselves…to whom?
Also, on the topic of cheap: Balmain, which bills itself as a purveyor of fine luxury goods, has almost instantaneously diluted its brand value in allowing clothes—stuff—bearing its name to be trampled like yesterday’s trash. It’s not the first time the brand took a nose-dive after whoring itself out, either: the same thing happened in the late 80s when it licensed the brand out in an effort to raise capital, which is 1. how yours truly owns a vintage, suede Balmain clutch produced during this era (which I bought for $7 at a Somerville Goodwill in 2007, before anyone knew what a Kardashian was), and 2. not ironically, cause the company to hit financial skids.
A true fashion warrior—god, even saying that causes me to roll my eyes hard, but okay, it works here—would never have even considered stepping into a line, where she’d have to wait to then battle it out with some ratchet bitch over who got the last pair of $399 suede biker pants that look not unlike a pair of $30 pants you could find at H&M on any other day. Pants that may not even fit her, because there is no time for trying things on—it’s simply grab and go and checkout with zero mercy for whomever makes the mistake of getting in her way. Instead, this proverbial warrior values quality—of her garments, and how she spends her time, which is to say, how one spends their life—and no matter where she is on the proverbial career or financial ladder, knows that anything worth having is worth investing in. And so, instead, she waits: specifically, for the day when she’ll have enough saved up to go and buy the real thing.