Saif Cheval, Editor-in-Chief
When the news first broke of the H&M x Kenzo collaboration, I wasn’t too excited. Kenzo, the French brand founded by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, often does some interesting things, but it’s also unfortunately associated with the embroidered tiger sweatshirt that’s a staple in your local rich kids rotation. It doesn’t matter how many avant-garde looks Kenzo puts on the runway: quite often, the only exposure the label gets on the street is on the body of a person ordering endless mimosas at Suwu.
H&M’s collaborations with high fashion brands are also not particularly envelope pushing. Balmain’s collection did offer beautifully decadent sequined dresses and bright red racing stripes on leathers, but most people were looking to pick up some logo tees on the cheap. The collaboration with Margiela offered basics you might have found at H&M anyways (although that could be due to Margiela’s ethos rather than H&M’s business model). The clothes, generally, have to be desirable without being too niche. H&M is one of the largest fashion retailers in the world, and if they’re going to do a high profile release they’re going to want to see cash results.
Enter H&M x Kenzo. Loud, brash, and un-wearable under average circumstances, H&M x Kenzo could honestly be the weirdest thing H&M has done yet. In keeping with the celebrity endorsements, Chance the Rapper can be found in their campaign lookbook wearing a jumpsuit covered in green tiger stripes. Other highlights include a leather jacket adorned with soft pink shearling and bulky Chelsea’s with neon soles. It’s Kenzo looking back to its 70s/80s roots, and it’s certainly eye-catching. Most stores offering mainline Kenzo won’t even dare to get close to the outrageous pieces H&M is offering, which should have been a deterrent to allowing this to go through.
Not that it’s a bad thing: as we transition through peak anti-fashion (feat. obligatory Vetements reference), perhaps ridiculous, out-there pieces are exactly what we need to switch things up. Gucci is putting embroidered snakes on everything; why can’t Kenzo do pink tiger stripes? Whether or not you should pay four hundred dollars for an H&M jacket remains to be seen, but the Kenzo collaboration is, for the most part, doing what it intended to do. Fluffy pink shearling and giant flowerprints make more of a statement than bourgeois-friendly sweatshirts anyways.