Can Balenciaga Break With Kanye?
H&M has created a fashion empire on the strength of its signature and most exclusive designers. The brand, which began in 1952 with a single store, is famous for its edgy, creative lines, but what sets it apart from many other fashion houses is its loyal following. This is an expensive brand. It’s part of the fast fashion movement, where consumers shop for fashion online, in stores, and through e-tailers, at the mall. It has helped H&M expand its line, and in so doing, build its customer base, but can the fast fashion brand succeed while breaking with its long-time partner, Kanye West?
On the surface, it appears that this partnership is a natural one: the two fashion brands have been a perfect combination, combining a sense of style and a willingness to push boundaries.
But the truth is that for many years, the two brands have been uneasy, with West trying to push fashion forward — even changing its name to “Homes & Hyung.” At one point, he even threatened to go ahead with a line in partnership with Calvin Klein if the company didn’t support his vision.
H&M’s response to West — to try and distance itself from the controversial rapper — was to create a boutique at West’s new West Hollywood complex, a small-scale project that has some of the most expensive boutiques in the world and the West Hollywood Hotel.
The H&M/Kanye West boutiques are the epitome of chic, hip, cool, and at times, edgy in design, making them perfect for consumers who can afford premium brands, but not spend a lot of money.
And it seems that’s exactly what West is after — a market where the brand can keep its high-end prices and still provide a luxury lifestyle.
This strategy may be successful in the short term, but over the long term, it poses a threat to H&M. In the long term, H&M will have to