H&M & Lanvin Cement Mass-Market Luxury

Rather huge news for the fashion world: Alber Elbaz, the quirky, bespectacled designer of Parisian luxury label Lanvin, has decided to collaborate with Swedish fast-fashion powerhouse H&M on a collection of womenswear and menswear to debut November 23 in 200 H&M locations worldwide. H&M sent out an official press release this morning to announce the partnership, stating, “Lanvin will bring to H&M a luxurious French tradition that is also modern and playful. It is very much a Lanvin collection, using their cut and tailoring, with lots of focus on form and details for both women and men.”

This is not Elbaz’s first partnership: Two years ago, he created a capsule collection made solely out of denim for ultra-cool indie label Acne. Though vastly more affordable than his offerings for Lanvin, the jeans, tops, jackets, and dresses were still priced in the high hundreds, and distribution was limited.

Regarding his decision to work with the chain, Elbaz remarked in the press release: “I have said in the past that I would never do a mass-market collection, but what intrigued me was the idea of H&M going luxury rather than Lanvin going public. This has been an exceptional exercise, where two companies at opposite poles can work together because we share the same philosophy of bringing joy and beauty to men and women around the world.”

The announcement followed days of speculation as H&M teased fans with vague black-and-white videos filled with clues as to the identity of its next guest designer. Lanvin, the oldest couture house in France, has remained unattainable to all but a very moneyed few. Elbaz’s emphasis on bringing luxury to the chain leads us to believe that this could be the closest to a “black label” experience that a brand like H&M or Target has ever offered.

H&M’s past collaborative efforts with the likes of Roberto Cavalli, Stella McCartney, and Jimmy Choo commanded higher prices than its normal offerings, but the quality of their collections felt comparable to the store’s in-house line. We anticipate that Lanvin could bring a new level of refinement to mass shopping—and solidify the retailer as the ultimate emissary between high-priced fashion and mass-market appeal. And although the pricing will certainly reflect the brand’s cache, we doubt H&M will let any one item soar past $400 (to compare: one of the most costly Cavalli gowns for the retailer was $350, and Jimmy Choo’s over-the-knee black leather boots were $299).

It will certainly be interesting to see exactly how well-made the pieces will be; regardless, we’re sure the collection’s debut will be greeted with the same frenzied crowds that bought out the Jimmy Choo and Cavalli lines with lightning speed.