When you think about it, Swedish retailer H&M is one of the biggest game-changers in the fashion biz. It all began on that one, fateful day somewhere in 2004 when the brains behind the cheap chic brand came up with the clever idea (god knows how) to align themselves with some seriously luxurious brands. First – and quite fittingly – came Karl Lagerfeld. The exclusive collection of super-starched white shirts, boyfriend blazers and LBDs sold out within hours and the frenzy induced cast a legion of other notable fashion designers to follow suit: Next came Stella McCartney, then Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf, followed by Roberto Cavalli and… Kylie Minogue? (Admittedly we’re still a bit confused on that last one.)
The kicker in all of it is that it’s not even just us regular folk – with the regular pay cheques – who are wearing the clothes. Many a celebrity has been snapped in McCartney’s trench; the Madonna maxi or Rykiel’s knits. Most recently, Kanye West sported the Versace for H&M velvet blazer at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show in New York. The price tag? $129. Pretty sweet considering the bottom half of his outfit likely cost triple that much.
Even fashion phraseology has changed thanks to H&M. “Fast fashion” became the blanket battle cry for virtually every designer diffusion line, whether they aligned themselves with a mass-market outlet or not. Would Missoni have partnered with Target pre-H&M? Doubtful. Giambattista Valli for Macy’s? Hard to say.
In homage to the past, present and a ever-hopeful future (Proenza Schouler, we’re looking at you!) we created a gallery below on some of our favourite looks from each collection. Can you guess who’s is who? (The answer key is at the bottom of this post.)
What is your favourite look?
(ANSWER KEY: A) Lanvin; B) Karl Lagerfeld; C) Stella McCartney; D) Roberto Cavalli; E) Viktor & Rolf; F) Matthew Williamson; G) Sonia Rykiel; H) Kylie Minogue; I) Jimmy Choo; J) Versace)