David Beckham is the latest in the long line of celebrities and designers that H&M have partnered with in a strategy you either love or hate.
Unleashed across the world in every H&M store and with a TV campaign to match to the sound of The Animals' version of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Beckham is wearing only a pair of £7.99 pants from his new David Beckham Bodywear from his H&M collection.
YouTube reaction is overwhelmingly positive which will please H&M, who have allegedly spent millions on Beckham’s endorsement but does the strategy leave H&M will none of their own brand values and declining sales as a result?
It’s not the first brand association and it won’t be the last. H&M’s recent history has included collaborations with Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Comme des Garçons, Lanvin and Jimmy Choo. Hyped through social media, susceptible magazines and tabloids buying up the cheap PR photos of celebs and cheap stunts this roll call of collaborations has put H&M's cheap and mainstream jersey dresses and bargain tailoring to the side as shoppers seek out the limited edition celebrity endorsed or designed items.
The H&M formula is very simple. The brand searches out either a household name, a designer brand whose aesthetic is so strong that it can take being watered down with cheap fabrics without losing its punch, or an insider fashion name that adds kudos to the brand.
For designers, the attraction of the H&M machine lies in bringing their designers to the masses for a limited time and I assume their thinking is that today’s H&M customer is tomorrow’s designer buyer at full price.
My problem with the associations is that the H&M brand itself begins to look like a train carrying passengers, a lap top showcasing all the content inside but none of its own.
H&M becomes a warehouse for others and loses its brand completely. What are it's values now apart from continually borrowing other brands values for a limited time?
Do people no longer shop at H&M for H&M products but only for the celebrity endorsed ones? There’s only one way a retailer can go from that point because without the latest designer or latest celeb the customers will shop elsewhere. They have become a victim of an aggressive strategy which now cannot be stopped as shoppers seek their next hit of purely celeb endorsed H&M products only. What happens when they run out of celebs or designers to partner with?
Only this January H&M produced the latest poor set of financial results. As UBS analyst Adam Cochrane said investors had started to ask: "Has H&M lost its way? The reality is people like Primark are offering 80% of the fashion at 50% of the price. The cheapest player used to be H&M."
Profits were down for the fifth quarter in a row after H&M, which turns over the lion's share of its £10.4bn annual sales in Europe, was forced to slash prices to clear unsold winter clothing.
Next month H&M will follow Versace and Beckham with a fleeting collaboration with Marni, a quieter Italian label, known for its quirky prints and beloved of fashion editors. This is another example of something that they can’t do themselves and where they have to borrow someone else’s bran