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Kenzo x H&M: Everything you need to know

You’ve seen pictures, heard people talking, and been told what date you’ll be able to get your hands on it. But you don’t know how it took shape. Here’s the story behind this year’s most covetable collection.

THE COLLABORATION
On 25 May, H&M and Kenzo announced that a designer collaboration between the two labels was in the works and that a collection rich in colour, print and detail was on its way. At that time, the collaboration and work with putting the collection together had been going on for quite some time. It was in November 2015, just weeks after the Balmain x H&M collection had flown off the shelves, that H&M and Kenzo’s design teams met for the first time.

With Kenzo being based in Paris and H&M in Stockholm, the meeting took place on neutral ground, here being a low-key studio in New York City. There, Kenzo’s creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon unravelled their vision for the collaboration: a collection celebrating the brand’s history by reproducing iconic pieces from the 70s, 80s and 90s, and connecting them to the contemporary street aesthetic that Lim and Leon introduced when taking the helm in 2011. 

“It feels like a really modern way to have this discussion and to celebrate the brand. Plus, it’s a fresh take for us,” says Carol Lim. 

“The collection is a giant fusion of archival Kenzo pieces from the 70s and maybe a little bit of the 80s and our own archives at the brand, dating back the last five years,” says Humberto Leon.

After the meeting the H&M team brought sketches, mood boards, one-of-a-kind dresses and other invaluable items from the Kenzo archives back to H&M’s Stockholm headquarters. Once there, everything that was connected to the collection was locked in a safe room that only a handful of employees had access to. 

THE COLLECTION
Kenzo was founded in 1970 when Japanese designer Kenzo Takada opened his boutique Jungle Jap in Paris. In that store Takada hosted fashion shows and sold clothes inspired by global lifestyle, traditional Japanese garb, and Parisian high fashion. His style was seen as innovative and new and quickly gained the attention of the industry and fashion press. The iconic brand was born.

As a label, Kenzo is known for its use of prints and colours and incorporating and mixing cultural influences into its items. In the Kenzo x H&M collection there’s only one item for ladies – a black blouse – that isn’t printed and a lot of items for both men and ladies that draw cultural references from Russia, Japan and elsewhere. 

The connection between Kenzo’s past and present – which was Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s vision – is evident throughout the collection. It mixes and merges prints and patterns from the 70s till today, and features several remade replicas of iconic items from the label’s archives. There’s a limited edition maxi-dress that was first seen in Kenzo’s A/W 1982 Russian collection, and tiger-printed leggings and roll-necks in different colours that were important pieces in one of the label’s late 80s campaigns. For this collection, they’ve both been updated in new colours and print combinations. 

“We stayed very true to ourselves and very true to the origins of the brand. We’ve always said that Kenzo Takada was always one step ahead. He was always forward-thinking, which is very much the way we think. The collection is a reflection of our viewpoints and a clash between them and a merger all at once,” says Humberto Leon.

The first thing you’ll notice when seeing the whole collection at once are prints. There’s a lot (and we mean a lot) of them. As a matter of fact, H&M has never before made a print-heavier collection than this one. And there’s much more print than meets the eye: several skirts, shirts, blouses, jackets and kimonos are reversible and feature detachable details in other prints. 

It’s not only the prints that tell Kenzo’s story in this collection. Sweatshirts feature the brand’s original tiger logo, pull chains on zips feature its new tiger head logo and buttons are engraved with Eiffel Towers and Statue of Libertys to celebrate Kenzo’s geographical context.

”Everything we made for this is going to be a collector’s item. None of it is a repeat of stuff that we’ve done before. It’s all exclusively for this and exclusively for H&M,” says Humberto Leon.

GETTING YOUR HANDS ON IT
Now six long months have passed since Kenzo x H&M was announced, and it’s only a few weeks until the collection will be available to buy in stores and online. As always with H&M’s designer collaborations, the shopping rules are different and planning is crucial. This year, the ladies collection will be available in 272 stores and the menswear collection will be available in 252 stores spread over six continents. 

Find out exactly which stores and what time on 3 November you’ll be able to get the items you want – on hm.com/kenzo



THE COLLECTION IN NUMBERS

272 Number of stores that will carry the ladies collection globally

252 Number of stores that will carry the men’s collection globally 

38 Number of garments for ladies

30 Number of garments for men 

26 Number of accessories for ladies

12 Number of accessories for men

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