clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Balmain x H&M: Live Updates from the Launch in San Francisco (We're In Line Right Now)

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

After months of anticipation, the Balmain x H&M collection hits stores this morning—doors open at 8am. We'll be keeping tabs on the H&M on Powell Street (where the line started yesterday morning). Racked San Francisco contributor Robyn Hagan Cain is on the scene. Check back for frequent updates and images.

At 5:20pm on Wednesday, there were already 30 people in line. (That's an entire wristband group for you seasoned H&M pros.) And, unlike the student-budget-strapped crowd that waited for Wang, this line is filled with big spenders. They want leather jackets, embellished dresses, thigh-high boots, and all the big ticket items that will make your bank account blush. The sky is the limit for this crowd, and no one will admit to a credit limit. Make sure to be prepared if you're braving the madness.

Who's waiting for what? Are we talking collab veterans or virgins? Read on to find out.

6:12am: Counting about 150 people in the line at 6am. If you arrive now, approach from Stockton instead of Powell.

6:25am: The lady in front of me is a first timer. She's looking for yellow and black braided tops, the green belt, and the gold and black dress.

6:42am: There's a Barney's staffer here ready to stock up on faux Balmain before selling the real Balmain.

6:47am:And with the dawn of day comes the rush of shoppers. The line is now around the block, and people are starting to stand up and squeeze toward the door

6:57am: The girls behind me are also first-timers to the H&May-hem. They're looking for the green suede dress, black rope top, the satin pants, the white blazer, and the green sequin dress. And finally, we've found people who admit to having a budget. (Though one admits that hers is a dad-dictated limit on her credit card.)

6:59am: A Muni driver just stopped her bus to ask what we're in line for.

7:21am: Wristband acquired. Check. Coffee. Check.

7:22am: My wristband group is scheduled for 11:20, and staffers say we won't be moving any faster than the scheduled time. (My experience is that it moves slower.) Staffers say that we can leave and return for our scheduled time, but recommend returning at least 15 minutes before your group time.

7:30am: Oh! Security is schooling a girl who waited all night and missed her wristband because she left for a bathroom break.

7:32am: A staffer just told me that the wristbands are being issued in groups of 25—not 30 as planned.

7:45am: Bad news, folks: the Starbucks restroom is closed. CLOSED!!

8:08am: The store opened at 8:02am. The collection is on the second floor, and the first group is inside! The manager warned everyone that no running would be tolerated. OK then.

8:17am: the first two shoppers have emerged. Both are dudes, and they didn't want to tell me what they bought. Secrets don't make friends, guys.

8:29am: Still waiting for #1 from the line to emerge. There's a news crew inside waiting to interview her, too.

8:30am: If you had hopes of shopping from your MacBook, sorry. According to Racked (national): "Looks like everything might be sold out online except the $24.99 bandeau tops." And that was a couple of hours ago.

8:35am: The next dude out was more forthcoming. He bought jeans, a sweater, a wallet, and a bag for his mom. (Good son!) So far, only guys have exited the store.

8:36am: Just overheard security telling someone that they've distributed all the wristbands. If you're just arriving to the line, you'll be here for a long time.

8:47am: Shannon, the first person in line just emerged. She tells us she spent over $1200, and bought the shoes, dresses, a shirt, a skirt, and a necklace. She wanted the tees, the beanie, and that holy grail beaded dress, but they weren't out. Supposedly staffers are saving some of these items for the later groups. Perhaps there's hope after all?

9:10am: The line seems to be moving along, and people in my section are debating whether folks should be allowed to purchase four bags of Balmain because "nobody needs that many clothes." Way to go, Balmain: prompting discourse on the perils of rampant consumption.

9:15am: Inexplicably, the line seems to be moving faster than the bracelet times would suggest. I started by Crate and Barrel this morning, and now I'm at the corner of Powell and O'Farrell.

9:29am: Shoppers say that staffers are restocking. Meanwhile, the debate about consumer excess continues...

9:52am: While the line is moving, it looks like it will be another hour before I make it in. So wish I was this dude right now.

10:09am: Made a quick run to Macy's for a bathroom break. The back of the Powell line is now about halfway down O'Farrell. Ran into some of the Westfield H&M shoppers inside Macy's, and they said the mall location is depleted.

11:03am: So. Close. My group is next. Though I just heard a security guard say they're selling out :(

11:15am: Word from shoppers exiting is that men's is sold out. Also, plan to size up two sizes if you are shopping for women's. If you're a 0, grab a 4.

11:17am: Waiting inside!

11:58am: The Balmain situation is bleak. During my shopping time, there were a few pairs of leather and suede pants, about four pairs of men's shoes, and a few earrings and earbuds. If you want those green or black satin-y tops, you're in luck. Otherwise, plan to return to the scene in three days for the epic return round.

12:13pm: Westfield's H&M is sold out, but those pieces taunting you from the window? They'll be available first come, first served at 10am on Friday. Sizes probably range between 2 and 6. P.S. Westfield had a DJ; Powell did not. Westfield FTW!

12:15pm: Also, this was the woman next to me checking out.

12:37pm; And we're out (since everything is practically gone). Will check back later with updates if need be.

These updates are from last night...

5:41pm: It's cooler than 60 degrees, so we're heading home. Keep the tweets and tips coming, folks. We'll be back in the morning!

5:40pm: The first dude cluster in the queue actually arrived two days ago—it's the group's second or third time doing this—before deciding that they didn't really want to wait two days. They're looking for waxed denim, biker jackets, and maybe the leather jacket.

5:38pm: Number two in line, who asked not to be named, arrived around 11am. She wants the blazers.

5:35pm: Just spoke with numero uno, Shannon Johnson, who arrived at the Powell Street store at 9am Wednesday morning for the black and gold dress, boots, belts, shoes, and a few of the shirts. She says "thousands" of people have asked her what she's doing. Definitely a missed opportunity for an endorsement deal.

5:32pm: Yup, yup. Definitely just saw someone rolling a joint in the line. Oh, San Francisco!

5:29pm: Best-dressed dude in the line is Manuel Munoz, who is wearing a jaunty blazer and pocket square to wait all night on a sidewalk. (Well-played, sir!) Manuel's in it to win it, and hoping for a leather jacket, sweater, the jeans, and suede boots.

5:25pm: Latrisse Lowe, 28th in line by our count, tells us that she's made a pact with her neighbors to hold each other's spots during bathroom breaks. (This crowd will definitely be patronizing that 24-hour Starbucks across the street.) Latrisse is making the most of the night, settling in with her copy of Girl Boss before buying all the beaded dresses and boots tomorrow.

5:20pm: The caboose on this 30-person line is a mother-daughter duo from Livermore, and this is not their first time out for a collab. Tiffane Schultz, the super-cool mom, is wearing a black and white fuzzy sweater from the Marant collab, and says she's hoping to snag the gold and white sequin dress and the thigh high boots for her daughter.