H&M x MMM: A Dilemma

December 11, 2012

by Gracia Ventus
The first time I got wind of the H&M x MMM collaboration, I remembered feeling rather indignant. After all, how could an anti-consumerist institution such as Margiela agree to a blatant commercial exercise with the leader of fast fashion? The snob in me did not like the idea of having non-fans jumping on the Margiela hype like lemmings for a multitude of reasons, mostly because Margiela’s works require a deeper commitment and appreciation than what most H&M’s customer base usually gives to clothes. I was rather curious and intrigued to find out what this collaboration had to offer, but at the same time dismissed it as I thought it’d be another watered down version of the brand.

Then came the news that the capsule collection consisted of archival reproductions. Long story short, I found myself at H&M’s door by 8AM.

The overall impression I had of the collection was far better than what I had expected. Yes, there was some point when I thought better materials could have been chosen, but for a tenth of the price of the real deal, one just can’t expect too much. I was floored by the effort they put into construction of the garments, the horizontal dress being the most interesting piece. It befuddled me for an entire 20 minutes, but as soon as I figured it out, I had one of those enlightened moments that made me realise why Margiela is still lauded as a visionary til today. Despite the number of Margiela books I have read or the recent pieces I have come across over the years, I never had the opportunity to properly comprehend the extent of his genius as his older archival pieces were extremely hard to come by. To be able to examine re-issues (albeit of lower quality ones) allowed me to have a deeper insight into the intelligence in which Margiela had designed his clothes.

But like any good thing there is always a flip side. The irony in partaking in this commercial exercise was not lost on me. While the garments from the collaboration weren’t made in H&M’s contracted factories, indirectly I may still be supporting their unsustainable fast fashion business model.

What I truly disliked though, was the way H&M handled the marketing communications. It’s one thing to bring a designer’s works to the masses, it’s another to scream about it in such a vulgar manner by holding a massive party and inviting a fanfare of celebrities and bloggers, most of whom I would safely assume have little appreciation for the Maison’s works (also I did not care for the twins who hosted the live feed). It went completely against the very grain of Margiela’s anti-publicity stance. And worst of all, it has been brought to light that the PR team has lifted another person’s works for its initial campaign image. Yet, no major reports have been issued on the matter, and I wonder why that is. Mind you, H&M is no stranger to criticisms but this has matter seemed to have been swept under the rug.

At the end of the day, I questioned myself what the purpose of this collaboration is. If it had been about hype for H&M, well it did not seem to work out well because the sales number looked measly, and at the same time it’s difficult to judge if Diesel’s decision has successfully recruited new fans for the Maison. All I know is that I have gained a deeper appreciation of the man himself, and at the same time, mourn the loss of this reclusive design extraordinaire. May he one day decide to come back and join us plebes again.


9 thoughts on “H&M x MMM: A Dilemma


    by ODYSSEY on December 12, 2012 at 3:57 am

    That about sums up my feelings about the MMM H&M collaboration. And I heard many times from *real* Margiela appreciators (the word fan doesn’t seem to fit in this case) that the quality was surprisingly good, considering all things.
    Alas, there is no H&M nearby to allow justification of my conclusions but I believe they’d be the same as yours. I’m quite certain I’d have walked away with a few stellar pieces, as you did.
    Good picks. You wear them beautifully.

  • Nero

    by Nero on December 12, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I found really funny that after the collection was showed and made available to bloggers most of the collection ended up on ebay. Before even hitting the stores.
    This tells us all we need to know: most of the last minute margiela blogging fans who adored and shopped and bragged about this collection actually couldn’t care less, still it was cool to act like someone who gave a damn.

  • moiminnie

    by moiminnie on December 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I’m a bit of tired of even thinking about it anymore, you said it all as if you were reading my mind. I just want to say that you chose an amazing piece that exactly suits your aesthetics. Love the photos and how you styled it. xx

  • aya1293

    by aya1293 on December 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Your critique is right on the money. I couldn’t agree more. This is just how fast fashion works. As much as we want this to change with respect to the collaborating designers, it’s just not going to happen.

  • ooi

    by ooi on December 22, 2012 at 11:21 am

    like everybody here, i hold the same sentiments about the collaboration. however, just like you, i bought exactly the same dress. i even went to your website as a template as to how to wear the dress!

    the 20 minute initial struggle is certainly worth it!

    loved your styling for both the red and black dress!

  • Sarah

    by Sarah on March 14, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Hello, I recently discovered your blog and have since been busily devouring it to catch up!

    You asked if the MMM x H&M collaboration had recruited new fans for MMM, and I would say in my case – YES! I had unfortunately never heard of MMM before this collaboration, which is doubly egregious because I went to fashion design school. But as a result of this collection, which I loved (although you’re right, some of the quality was not great), I am now the proud owner of several authentic MMM pieces!

    I am delighted to have found this blog as my fashion taste gets more and more unusual as I get older and care less and less what people think; I find less inspiration in the typical personal style blog. I’ve actually almost come full circle back to my college days when I dressed “Goth Lite”. I’ve gone through a lot of stages since, but I always seem to come back to the black and the weird.

    Anyway, thank you for this great blog! Keep it up!

    http://post-apocalypticchic.blogspot.com (under construction)

    • The Rosenrot | Gracia Ventus

      by The Rosenrot | Gracia Ventus on March 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Hi Sarah!

      Welcome to the Margiela family! I’m always glad when someone finds herself on the stranger side of fashion, it keeps the conversation going and the industry more interesting, little by little.

      Thank you for your kind words and hopefully you’ll continue to find what you seek on my humble blog.


  • Anonymous

    by Anonymous on July 4, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I enjoy your style and writing and appreciate your perspective on quality attire with an anti-consumerist leaning. However, I wanted to point out that Margiela has not been behind his namesake brand for a while, starting from the early 2000s. While the newer products, including (shamelessly) the H&M collab pieces, may aesthetically be inspired by his genius, they are mere dilutions of it that lack the conceptual integrity of his work. This just shows how the weight of thoughtless consumerism unfortunately pervades even the best of brands.

    • Gracia Ventus | The Rosenrot

      by Gracia Ventus | The Rosenrot on July 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Hi, thanks for your comment. I am in fact aware of Margiela’s absence since mid 2000 and the Diesel kerfuffle, as what I have insinuated in the last line of my essay, and I am sure my intelligent readers whom I believe are ardent fans of the Maison are well-aware of the unfortunate history too.


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