There's only one thing that gives shopaholics more anxiety than a sample sale: a designer collaboration launch.
And when the brand and designer go out of their way to build up the hype (like announcing the collab at a music awards show, bringing in the Backstreet Boys and all the models for a star-studded runway show, and releasing a campaign music video starring the hottest model of the moment, Kendall Jenner), you can bet your melting credit cards that your competitive side will be coming out.
The highly-anticipated Balmain x H&M collection is launching this week (Nov. 5th), and if you're anything like us, you've had your calendars marked and have been mentally preparing since the Billboard Music Awards. Because yes, mental preparation for this kind of event is absolutely necessary, whether you're a veteran shopper for limited-edition garb or a newbie who just really wants to get his/her hands on something Olivier Rousteing-designed.
For those of you who have never before experienced a designer collaboration sale, we totally get that the whole thing can be a little intimidating, and confusing. But not to fret, we've got some tips and tricks on how to shop Balmain x H&M like a pro. You'll be part of the #HMBALMAINATION in no time!
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1. Know where to shop
Balmain x H&M will only be available in select stores from 8 a.m. local time on Nov. 5, 2015. In Canada, you can shop the collection at Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, Rockland Centre and St. Catherine St. West at Peel St. in Montreal, Bloor Street West, Toronto Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto and The Pacific Centre in Vancouver.
2. Understand the system
Back in the day when designer collaborations were brand-new, customers would line up for hours to then enter the store in a mad rush all at once. The result was chaos and a lot of disappointed shoppers. Luckily, H&M has since enforced a wristband policy to ease the madness.
Here's how it works: the first 420 people in line will receive a coloured wristband -- 14 colours with one for each group of 30 customers. The colour you receive will determine when it's your time to shop the designer collection area (yes, it's a separate section closed off from the rest of the store). Each group only gets 10 minutes to shop (which is why you should plan what you want to buy ahead – more on that later), and there will be five minutes set aside between each group for re-stocking. After the last group, the designer collection area will be opened up to everyone else.
Also, it's important to note your purchase will be limited to no more than two items per product (so, you can buy two of the same item in different sizes, but no more than two).
3. Plan ahead
Since you only have 10 minutes to shop, you must plan your shopping list beforehand. This is important, dear friends. Know your size in H&M stores beforehand, so you know exactly which size to grab. (Insider tip: the Balmain x H&M collection fits slightly smaller, so you may want to size up.)
You can check out the full collection with pricing here.
4. Line up early – or better yet, convince a brave friend to line up for you
Be warned that some people go as far as pitching a tent 48 hours before the sale to get a wristband. If camping out is too hardcore, do at least aim to go three to four hours earlier to ensure you won't be disappointed, or better yet, convince a friend to line up for you (just make sure you do something extremely nice in return!).
5. Bring your friends, or befriend those in line with you
Take this from someone who has shopped numerous designer collaborations -- there is strength in numbers! Bring a friend or make friends with those around you (it'll make the wait time more bearable and will provide much-needed moral support). This way, you can create a buddy system to divide and conquer the sale.
6. Pack water and snacks
It's important to stay hydrated and nourished to prepare yourself for the long wait ahead. You'll need all your strength for the shopping extravaganza to come.
7. Try to scope out the space
If possible, get a peek at the layout of the designer collection area. That way, you can plan (with your newfound buddies!) who goes where.
8. Dress comfortably
... especially if you're waiting in line for that long. Opt for clothing that's easy to slip in and out of, or better yet, that's thin enough to be worn underneath the clothes you'll be trying on.
9. Head to the fitting room to score items you couldn't get your hands on
Once your 10 minutes are up, you can head to the fitting room to try on your items. This is where the waiting game begins. There will be plenty of people standing by, waiting for someone to let go of an ill-fitting item in their size...and if you have the time and patience, this isn't a bad idea. It's a great spot to trade items with fellow shoppers.
10. Be a good shopper
And by that we mean, don't play dirty. Yes, there will be some ruthless people out there. Punches may even get thrown (true story, this happened to this editor's friend last year). But you don't want to be that person causing a scene just to get your hands on a designer item. Seriously.
11. Stay calm
Yes, we know this will be extremely hard (especially for the hardcore shoppers), but the more nervous energy you have, the harder it will be to stay focused and keep your eye on the prize. A little adrenaline is a good thing, don't get us wrong, just don't let it take over. A few deep breaths beforehand should do the trick, as will a natural stress relief remedy (we're huge fans of Bach's Rescue Remedy).
12. If all else fails, shop online
Balmain x H&M not available online in Canada, but if you have friends in the States who you can ship to, you could shop from the luxury of your own home (or in this case, your bed!).
Happy shopping, and good luck!