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Illustrations: H&M’s designer collaborations in picture

By FashionUnited


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Even though H&M’s designer collaborations barely turn our heads 12 years down the line, the Midas touch has yet to wear off and H&M shows no signs of slowing down with its annual collaboratiob. The media attention surrounding each collection launch is huge - but more importantly for the chosen designer is how an H&M collaboration can be the fast-track to a quick cash-injection. Designers who teamed up with the Swedish fast-fashion chain before Olivier Rousteing from Balmain last year were reportedly paid 1 million dollars plus for their services, according to Business of Fashion.

In the run up to H&M x Kenzo collection launch in November, FashionUnited shares its overview of all H&M’s designer collaborations. Scroll down to refresh your memory.

Karl Lagerfeld

The fashion world is turned upside down when German designer Karl Lagerfeld and Swedish fashion retailer H&M announce that they are collaborating. The partnership has a great impact, as it makes luxury accessible to many consumers.

”In the hardcore fashion world in Paris, it would have looked a bit funny to walk around with an H&M bag,” said Donald Schneider, the creative consultant to H&M who conceived the designer collaboration concept more than a decade ago. According to Schneider, Lagerfeld´s collaboration with H&M was the start of an era in which it was okay for women to walk into the Ritz hotel wearing H&M and Dior.

Only days after the launch of the collection, rumour has it that there might be a sequel to the collaboration. Yet, Karl Lagerfeld soon makes an end to these rumours by announcing that he has no intention of ever working with H&M again. The designer is upset by H&M´s decision to only produce a limited number of items, which meant that a lot of customers were not able to get their hands on an item from the collection. Additionally, Lagerfeld expressed to be angry that H&M had also produced his designs in larger sizes. “The fashion I design is made for people with a slim figure,” he said in a German newspaper.

Stella McCartney

The collaboration with Stella McCartney is the first that is promoted with a special launch party.

By collaborating with Stella McCartney, H&M hopes to recreate the success of the collaboration with Lagerfeld. Not only when it comes to the financial side, but also when it comes to the publicity that came with it.

Although the collection does result in revenue growth in the month following its launch, the success that was achieved in the previous year cannot be equaled.

Viktor & Rolf

When H&M partners with Dutch designer duo Viktor & Rolf in november 2006, it really becomes apparent how much fashion fans are willing to do to obtain a designer piece.

The first customers are already saving a spot in line three days before the collection will hit stores. The main reason for this frenzy? The wedding dress by Viktor & Rolf.

They say that the third time is the charm, and that also applies in this case. This third collaboration yielded an even better financial result than the two previous collections.

Roberto Cavalli

The collaboration with Roberto Cavalli marks a turning point, as it illustrates that H&M has returned to high profile collaborations that are more exclusive.

The festive collection is presented to the press at a celebratory fashion show in Rome.

It is no longer a real surprise by now that the collaboration attracts large numbers of excited customers:

Comme des Garcons

The collaboration with Comme des Garcons offered H&M the chance to further improve their brand presence in Japan.

One change that has been made this year is the return policy. Instead of the initial fourteen days that customers were allowed to return any unwanted items, they now have to make up their mind within seven days.

The collection generates a revenue growth in comparison to the month before.

Matthew Williamson

For the first time in the history of designer collaborations, H&M launches two collections instead of just one.

When it comes to their popularity, the two collections that Williamson has designed for H&M differ.

Jimmy Choo

In the same year in which Williamson designed a collection, H&M approaches Jimmy Choo for a collection that will be launched in november.

While previous years did not see a limit on the number of items that customers could buy, the company has set the limit on one piece per item for the first time.

Additionally, customers are given a wristband which mentions the time at which they can enter the store, thereby ensuring a calm in store atmosphere.

By now it has become a tradition for the limited edition H&M designer items to appear on online marketplaces such as Ebay within 24 hours after their official launch. The same applies to the Jimmy Choo collection, although there is one main difference with earlier years: this year the items are appearing online even though there are still items available in store.

Could it be that the relatively high prices of Jimmy Choo´s shoes and bags do not fit with the current economic situation? In comparison to November 2008, the revenue of this year only shows a 1 percent increase.

Sonia Rykiel

No less than one month later, the fourth collaboration of 2009 is announced on December 5 through an online broadcasted fashion show.

The lingerie collection that Sonia Rykiel designs for H&M is not only sold at the Swedish retailer but also at numerous Sonia Rykiel stores. It is the first time that the H&M designer collaboration is sold elsewhere.


Lanvin X H&M is the first collection which is accompanied by a couture show, hosted at The Pierre hotel in New York.

The collection that Alber Elbaz has designed has supposedly become a success. The figures speak for themselves, because the fashion company has seen a 17 percent increase in revenue compared to the previous year.

In total, 39,823 Lanvin-items are resold online in 2010.


The news that Donatella Versace will be the next guest designer becomes public, when the designer enters the stage of the Versace show in Milan wearing a leather Versace X H&M dress.

In an effort to reduce the number of items that are resold, H&M again alters their return policy. As of now, customers only have three days to return their items or change them for a different size.

As was the case in preceding years, this collection also boosts the sales of the company during the fourth quarter.


Whereas the Versace collection became an instant hype because of the elaborate media campaign, Marni has opted for a more subtle campaign. The news of this collaboration was stated in an official press release, which was followed by an intimate event in Los Angeles.

Yet, this approach did not have an effect on the popularity of the collection. As was the case in any other year, customers are queuing in front of the store hours before it is due to open on March 8 2012.

Maison Martin Margiela

Despite the large queues, the collection does not sell as fast this year. A few months after the collection was launched, the items are available at a high discount.

H&M´s revenue in November 2012 shows an increase, although this is not due to the Belgian fashion brand. The change can simply be explained by considering that the company operates more stores than one year ago.

Isabel Marant

One week before the official launch of the collection on November 14, numerous items from Isabel Marant already make an appearance on eBay. It is said that these items were used for a press launch in Paris. Also, the company issues warnings for deception by sellers who have bought large amounts of clothing in stores to resell these at much higher prices.

The wedge sneaker, which is almost identical to the shoe that was included in Marant´s pret-a-porter collection in 2011, becomes an instant hit. The same applies to the bohemian jacket with red embroidery. According to the Huffington Post, the jacket can even claim the title of most popular jacket of the year. The garment is seen on bloggers and celebrities, as well as the Swedish princess Victoria.

It seems highly unlikely that any items were still left, but even if that had been the case, these were not offered with a discount at a later time.

Again, the month November turns out to be a success for H&M, as the company reports yet another rise in revenue.

Alexander Wang

This time, the launch does not only involve a show but also a pop-up store where everyone can buy their favourite items straight from the runway, with a maximum of two items per person.

Also, items from the AW X H&M collection can only be returned within two days.

The men´s collection sells out faster than the one for women. Some say that the men´s collection that Wang designed is the most popular of all collaborations until now.

On the same day the collection is launched, an offer of 100.000 pounds is made for the scuba hoodie which H&M sold at a price of approximately 57 pounds.

In the month that the Alexander Wang collection is sold, H&M notes a 10 percent increase in revenue compared to the previous year.


The year 2009 marks the beginning of ‘Balmainia’, as the SS09 ready to wear collection becomes an immense success.

In 2015 Balmain fever gripped the world once more

The entire development of the Balmain collection for H&M could be easily followed online via social media.

In just a few short minutes on the Balmain x H&M launching day in November, H&M flagship store on Regent Street in London is transformed into a true fashion ‘jungle’ - every shopper was on the hunt. The images of camping shopper in South Korea, sleeping outside of H&M the night before the collection launch pale in comparison to the photos of the stampede storming H&M in Florence, Italy. In New York City, getting your hands on an item from the collection was close to mission impossible and one of the most trialling shopping experience ever according to FashionUnited’s New York correspondent.

And to think that Balmain himself camped outside of H&M store for the debut Karl Lagerfeld x H&M collection a mere ten years ago according to GQ Magazine.


H&M tapped Kenzo for its designer collection in 2016. In July, H&M revealed three campaign images of the Kenzo x H&M collection. A tigerprint stripe pattern plays the leading part in the collection. In August, a fourth look is revealed: a reinterpretation of Kenzo’s folklore ribbon dress.

The Kenzo x H&M collection is set to launch in over 250 selected H&M stores across the globe, as well as online on November 3, 2016. Prices for the collection have yet to be revealed.

Credit illustrations: Studio Iva (IGM: studio_iva)

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