Irish fashion designer Simone Rocha is launching her collaboration with H&M today. The collection welcomes the designer's first-ever menswear collection, replete with pearls, shirting, and the sexy menswear item du jour, the Aran sweater.
Beyond that, the collaboration introduces Rocha's coded elements of subversive femininity and application of contrast to an accessible line of H&M pieces. There's shirting, hoodies, T-shirts, and outerwear arriving in black/red/pink/tartan, and prints featuring photography from Jacob Lillis. We may have called time out on pearl necklaces in our latest trend obituary, but perhaps we'll rescind it in the face of the pearl-trimmed Derbys and trench coats. Take a look at the collection via the gallery above.
Rocha is no stranger to collaboration, as she was a part of Moncler's Genius project last year, which saw her introduce her floral prints to romantic organza-layered sculptural pieces that added a feminine texture to Moncler's precise technicality.
H&M has been remixing its casual wear with luxury designer collaborations since 2004 when the Swedish behemoth launched a 30-piece collection designed by late creative director of Chanel Karl Lagerfeld. The partnership was, by all accounts, a roaring success. At the time, WWD reported that shoppers were literally ripping clothes off mannequins to score a Lagerfeld-designed dress for the affordable price of €99. However, Lagerfeld would later describe the collaboration as a failure citing "snobbery created by anti-snobbery" to Vogue for the way stocks were kept deliberately low and therefore leaving customers disappointed.
The high-street-meets-high-fashion concept was further described as exemplifying "masstige" or "massclusivity" because of how it introduced desirable products to the wider market – with the caveat that it's for a limited time only. The H&M x "Designer" model was duly repeated with Versace, COMME des GARÇONS, Lanvin, Balmain, Maison Martin Margiela, in addition to collaborations with Beyoncé and David Beckham, too. Although the concept of branded collaborations is just another facet of fashion industry these days, H&M was arguably the blueprint for getting high-end name tags in the wardrobes of the general shopper.
Rocha's decision to partner with H&M is an interesting one that is seemingly in contrast with an ethos she outlined during a discussion on sustainability with Vogue last year. “A lot of people are talking about slowing down [after the pandemic] and creating a smaller amount of product, which I agree with," she said. "Mainly I think what will slow down is the craving for things that are disposable—disposable fashion and ideas. I hope people will want an intimacy with collections and a personal connection with clothes that last a long time.”
One would hope the above comments regarding the disposable nature of fashion has been considered when partnering with a fast-fashion giant who is often called out for promoting just that. Perhaps Lagerfeld's point hit home and stocks will be kept low?