I don’t do lines. The end. There are almost no exceptions, no Japanese cheesecake too moist, no Black Friday deal too tempting to make me willingly lie on the ground or stand outside in frigid weather for more than a reasonable twenty minutes.
However, when H&M and Balmain announced their much celebrated collaboration, the idea of owning one of the coveted pieces didn’t sound like a terrible idea. The notion was fleeting until I actually found myself up at 2 a.m. on Nov. 5th, standing in front of the Toronto Eaton Centre ready to head into #HMBALMAINATION battle.
So there I was lying on what I suspected to be a pretty unsanitary surface at 3 a.m. It was a bizarre scene with people napping in collapsible lawn chairs and sleeping bags. Some even built makeshift little forts with their coats.
I sat on the ground convinced I could entertain myself for five or so hours without resorting to sleeping splayed out on the dirty floor. I mean, I’m not a child –- I’m a grown woman, for goodness sake. An hour into the wait, I was fighting back the urge to nap. Next thing you know, I was lying awkwardly on the ground trying to sort out the most acceptable napping position. As you can see, this was a challenging feat.
Contrary to my troubles, the girls in front of me seemed to be having the time of their lives, laughing at what appeared to be a Russian version of "Jimmy Kimmel" on their iPad. I eventually joined in because really, what else was there to do? I noticed they had brought along sustenance in the form of chocolate and caffeine. I became envious and snapped this little photo but never asked for a bite -- which I quite regret.
Eventually, the staff handed out wristbands and I discovered that my initial estimate of being roughly the 150th person in line was grossly off the mark. I was 239th and when I saw the ill-fated number, I knew I was doomed to scraps and sloppy seconds.
One of my line mates told me she was paid to line up on behalf of a friend of a friend. She was to get a small percentage of whatever she managed to snag. I think even she knew at that point that her payout wasn’t going to be huge. She explained to me that she was asked to specifically look for certain items but also grab whatever she could, presumably to sell at inflated prices after.
Those who were handed shopping slots after 9 a.m. were mostly disappointed, as were the majority of those who waited in queues all around the world.
Racked documented some of the most extreme responses from shoppers leaving empty-handed. One disappointed shopper posted this angry reply on Balmain designer, Olivier Rousteing’s, personal Instagram account:
“Excuse me Oliver I was unable to purchase any items after 6 hrs of queuing. I would appreciate it if u restock some items or send them to me directly!!"
Another post on Routeing's account was more sad than angry but equally passionate.
"Dear Olivier, we did not get a chance to "be a part of the dream and be worldwide Balmain Army". The shopping time was very small. And everything was sold out. You could have insisted to @hm that the collection be around for at least a week. It was literally still exclusive, just like the real Balmain. Oh and PS, I think you should leave Balmain and start your own company ❤️❤️❤️"
The Twitterverse was also ripe with Balmination venting as well.
And just hours after the first groups shopped, hundreds of eBay posts popped up with sellers gouging those who missed out by selling items for double and even six times the retail price.
If that wasn't enough, someone even tried to sell a branded Balmain × H&M water plastic water bottle. Whether this was a joke remains to be seen.
And don't assume there aren't buyers willing to pay the inflated prices either.
In the end, I managed to secure three items I actually quite liked. The road to this point was something I’d rather never experience again. Being up at an ungodly hour, sitting on the floor while security guards barked at you and the endless waiting just to be herded into a literal ring of madness, shoving and sweat isn’t my cup of tea.
Whatever H&M has up their sleeve next, I’ll pass and I’m sure many of those who waited this time are with me on this one.
Also on HuffPost