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Secret Shopper: Did Mugler x H&M warrant the hype?

Chloe Burney
12 May 2023

As part of TheIndustry.fashion's Secret Shopper series, we visited H&M's Regent Street flagship store on the launch day of the H&M x Mugler collaboration.

The collection, which was unveiled last month, has been described as "playful, youthful, body-positive and complimenting each individual's identity".

For nearly two decades, H&M has been democratising high fashion by offering global audiences the chance to own special pieces of designer history at high-street prices. H&M has collaborated with some of the biggest names in fashion, including Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Balmain and Stella McCartney. Now, the retailer has partnered up with Mugler, to create an array of womenswear, menswear and accessories, all crafted under the helm of Creative Director Casey Cadwallader.

mugler

H&M x Mugler campaign

Styles were adapted to a modern expression of house codes, including the spiral multi-seaming, which runs throughout the collection in the form of bodycon dresses and bonded thong jeans.

The collection is seemingly a near-carbon copy of Mugler's mainline, which may explain its high-than-usual price point. Prices ranged from £39.99 earrings to £299.99 leather boots.

Today, TheIndustry.fashion headed to H&M's flagship store on Regent Street to take on the seemingly-endless lines of patiently waiting fashion disciples and review the experience of shopping one of the most sought-after retail drops of the year.

H&M Regent Street

H&M Regent Street

Location

As for locations, it doesn't get better than the capital city's most famous shopping destination, Regent Street, which is a mere five minutes from Oxford Circus. Surprisingly, however, the collaboration only headed to four brick-and-mortar destinations in the UK (three in London and one in Manchester).

Window displays at H&M Regent Street

Window displays at H&M Regent Street

Windows and Entrance

Prepped and ready to wait in line, we headed to H&M's store before opening hours. Thanks to H&M's website describing a colour-coded wristband entry system, it’s safe to say queues were expected and they most certainly did not disappoint.

On arrival at 8:30, prior to the store's opening time at 9:00, we were met with a sea of fashion mavens queueing around the block. The line, which could also be described as a mini-marathon, curved around the corner of H&M's stablemate Arket and onto the adjacent Noel Street, ending opposite department store Liberty.

Once we reached the end of the line, we were handed a silver wrist brand, which meant we could return during one of the last slots of the day (12:45-13:00).

With the assumption that stock would be limited by 12:45, we retreated to TheIndustry.fashion office (a short walk from Liberty on Noel Street) and waited with anticipation until the website launched at 9am. After many page refreshes, the collection went live online at 9:04, subsequently selling out in a matter of minutes.

On our return at 12:30, there was a glimmer of hope that it would be our time to enter as we approached the shiny window displays. Models sporting Mugler's signature looks were on full display, accompanied by a larger-than-life rotating display, which read 'M U G L E R'.

Store Fit and Displays

As we crossed the threshold, we were escorted to a caged-off section at the front of the store, where we had 15 minutes to shop. Unfortunately, by then, most of the big hits and popular silhouettes were sold out, despite the promise of frequent restocking throughout the day.

The space, though small and crowded, was clean and well organised. Between each 15-minute time slot, the staff members restocked and tidied the space, whilst being instructed by a managerial member of staff's discerning voice coming through a hand-held microphone.

Fitting Rooms and Service

Customers could purchase a maximum of one of each style and were allowed a maximum of five pieces in the fitting room.

There was plenty of attentive staff both in the shopping section and the fitting rooms, keeping the system running smoothly. The staff knew exactly what had already sold out and were prepared to answer any questions as shoppers scrambled to find the garments on their wishlists.

Purchases made in-store can be returned within three days and purchases online could be returned up to 14 days after delivery.

Product Range

As expected, the collection was quick to sell out. According to staff members at the Regent Street location, denim jackets and jeans were among the most sought-after silhouettes of the day, flying off the racks within minutes.

The not-so-popular styles, such as baggy Tees and neon bodysuits remained on the rails, while the blazers and denim were nowhere in sight. Surprisingly, the pink archival two-piece, which was predicted to be a hit, was still in stock.

In Conclusion

Since the overwhelming popularity of the Balmain x H&M collaboration, the retailer put protocols in place to handle the crowds of shoppers looking to get their hands on designer pieces for democratic prices. H&M's most praiseworthy aspect of the day was the time-slotted allocations, keeping the eager shoppers at bay while ensuring customers wouldn't endure hours of waiting in line.

Despite the remarks of a few disappointed shoppers complaining about sold-out pieces within hours of the store's opening, the collection was well received by those who got their hands on it.

The most shocking aspect of the collection's launch was the lack of H&M stores participating. Maybe then, crowds would've been better dispersed and the collection could have reached a larger audience.

Whether it was the power of H&M's marketing or the legacy that Manfred Thierry Mugler left behind, the H&M x Mugler collection was a global success and warranted the hype. A collection spotlighting the archival works and lasting impact of a fashion icon, like Mugler, was the pick-me-up the fashion industry needed after a string of farewells to the icons such as Mugler, Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood.


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