Three Lessons Retailers can Learn from Alexander Wang and H&M

Originally published on LocalMaven

The world of retail fashion is competitive, and brands are constantly having to reinvent their offerings and analyze consumer demand in order to stay in business. For a brand like H&M, valued at #31 on the Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands List, partnerships are often a way to connect the world of high fashion with the average consumer’s price point while continuing to position themselves as a leader in the space.

This week a new collection from Alexander Wang and H&M launched in select H&M stores and online to a frenzy. #alexanderwangxhm was trending and the company saw a huge lift in social media and also in their stock price.

The line, which fused high-fashion with sporty influences complete with swim goggles and boxing gloves, absolutely blew up, with lines of people camped out around the corner at the stores like it was some type of new iPhone event.


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Not only were people buying up these items, they were reselling them for twice the retail price online.  Even eBay themselves tweeted about the items to drum up conversation in the frenzy.

So what can other retailers learn from a successful partnership like H&M to drive this type of in-store traffic? Here are a few thoughts: 

1. Look for partnerships that will enhance both brands

On its face, Alexander Wang and H&M might seem like a strange partnership. Wang known for high fashion and high price points suddenly opening up his brand and licensing a line with a store known somewhat for their affordable fashion. But for both, it brings their audiences that much closer to one another.

Pro athletes and sneaker companies are probably one of the easiest examples demonstrating brand partnerships. For years emerging basketball players have made it a big decision on which shoe company to align themselves with. For someone like Michael Jordan who is an emerging athlete looking to become a global icon, a brand like Nike with already international appeal helped elevate him to another level.

It’s not just at the global level that these types of partnerships work. Local markets can also benefit from working with other brands.

Think about the local car dealer who pays the former college star or long retired hometown to shoot commercials and sign balls down at the lot. They understand the affinity people have with these athletes and they serve that up in the place where they come in and do business to get more people in the door.

Any retailer big or small could find unique organizations that they could create new opportunities to get more people in the door.

Successful partnerships are built when both brands complement one another’s consumer audience and lifestyle.

Think outside the box about your audience. Are there interesting partnerships you can do in your town?

New and emerging companies that your company’s mission aligns with?

Companies your customers really like?

If you’re a local bookstore maybe there’s a popular local artist or author you could host an event with. If you’re a local restaurant maybe there’s a local foods company that you can call out on your menu or by creating a special dish around a popular local product.

2. Surprise and Delight

Alexander wang opened their brand’s instagram page with a video announcement of the H&M partnership and H&M spent a few months trickling out teaser images on their own account.

Two months In advance of the release, Rihanna wore an outfit from the collection in public, sparking fashion outlets and instagram addicts to eat up the new line. Alexander Wang shared the photo themselves on Instagram to add fuel to the fire and H&M released a few teaser images to keep the story going.

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A post shared by ALEXANDER WANG (@alexanderwangny) on

H&M started advertising the line themselves on Instagram one month out, with another video showing off the entire collection in 15 seconds.

When the collection was launched officially, H&M opened up their website to a livestream complete with red carpet camera work and a stream of a fashion show displaying the collection.

Ten minutes before the collection was set to go live on H&M’s website at 10 a.m. EST Thursday, the entire site crashed.

Throughout the entire time, both Alexander Wang and H&M’s audiences grew online. Continue to give people reasons to interact with you and your content and it will pay off.

3. Make it sharable and discoverable

Aside from dropping images across social media for months leading up to the collection release. They gave each individual item a name that was easily hashtaggable for people to share and have discussions about the parts as well as the whole.

With both Alexander Wang and H&M activating the campaign socially, they’re working with a combined audience of a couple million!

Look no further than a quick search on Tumblr and you’ll find thousands of images posted about he partnership.

If two brands could get this much traction together, imagine if you and another awesome local brand were to team up, the entire town might be talking!

Help activate the community by recognizing and curating photos, or by tweeting and responding to fans in real-time.

For H&M, the partnership seems like a win all around. With sell-out lines around the block at their stores and more traffic than they can handle online, H&M’s stock price bumped up nearly 30 points in the past month.

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If marketing was easy, everyone would be doing it and having thriving businesses. Creative partnerships like this expose your message to different groups of people while also building a deeper connection with your regular customers. By listening to their likes and needs, you can create winning partnerships that will drive new and more loyal customers .


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