H&M'S LESS KNOWN DESIGNER COLLABORATIONS
Everybody knows that H&M collaborates with a world-famous label every November. In December a rising designer is awarded the H&M Design Award – which allows the winner to develop, market and sell their collections on a global scale.
From Karl Lagerfeld to Isabel Marant to Balmain. Since 2004 H&M has been collaborating with some of the best-known designers and labels in the world to create coveted collections that have caused shopping hysteria all over. But it’s not only the commercially appealing collaborations that have put H&M on the forefront of fashion. Since 2012 the company has held an annual design competition for young and extremely talented designers with the purpose to highlight the most artistic aspects of what we wear.
“We launched the award because we wanted to help young designers in the early stages of their careers. Aside from being awarded prize money the winning designer gets PR on our global market space and the chance to develop key pieces from their collections”, says H&Ms creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch, who’s been one of the jury members from the start.
Developing items and selling them at H&M was an important factor when the decision to arrange an annual design competition was made.
“We can’t just show a collection and not make it available to our customers”, van den Bosch says and continues: “The Design Award collections are the most unique ones we produce.”
The winner’s have been announced in the beginning of each year and the key pieces from their collections have arrived in selected stores and online roughly ten months later.
“All Design Award collections have been challenging to produce because they’ve all been extremely detailed. Eddy Anemian [the 2014 winner] made a real couture collection and Ximon Lee’s featured so many details”, says Margareta van den Bosch and continues: “It takes time to develop all collections. First we work through it together with the designer, then we choose fabrics and re-work patterns.”
Many pieces in the previous winners collections haven’t just been challenging to produce, they’ve also been difficult to pull off for the not so fashion-forward. Ximon Lee’s collection included garments with cardboard and plastic details.
WHY SHOULD WE BE INTERESTED IN THE DESIGN AWARD COLLECTIONS?
“If you have an interest in art and design you should have an interest in this award. We view these collections as great artistic work with a strong visual message”, says Margareta van den Bosch.
The four previous winning collections have championed modern, detailed and forward-thinking fashion.
2012: STINE RIIS
The first ever winner was Danish Stine Riis. Her collection was androgynous, colourful and featured items crafted with a special technique that bonded leather and wool together.
After winning, Stine Riis followed her dreams and started her own eponymous label. She later put it on hold when the French fashion label Surface to Air offered her the position as their head of design womenswear.
2013: MINJU KIM
“She was so happy when we announced her as the winner, she jumped and almost hit the ceiling”, Margareta van den Bosch recalls about the second Design Award winner, Korean Minju Kim.
Kim’s collection was inspired by manga and came in a pastel colour scheme with unusual cuts. Her cartoony collection wasn’t just sold at H&M – luxury store Opening Ceremony in New York sold pieces from it as well. That was the first time ever the store sold a collection produced by H&M.
2014: EDDY ANEMIAN
In 2014 a couture collection took home the first prize. Eddy Anemian’s collection was named They Can Cut All the Flowers, They Cannot Keep Spring from Coming and was inspired by Tilda Swinton in I am Love. The fashion press praised his bright and feminine collection (Paper Mag called itCrazy Chic) and the yellow maxi skirt became an item most-wanted that autumn.
2015: XIMON LEE
This year was the first time a menswear designer won the award. Ximon Lee’s collection had a silhouette that sit away from the body. Although Lee’s collection was a menswear line, the items were basically genderless with its oversized silhouettes, complex use of fabric and quirky structures.
Key items from his collection landed in H&M stores and on HM.com in late October and sold out immediately. Since winning the H&M design award Ximon Lee has launched his own label XIMONLEE and showcased it on underground label VFILES fashion show in New York last February.
2016: TO BE DECIDED
The 2016 H&M Design Award winner will be announced in London on 7 December. See the list of semi-finalists here.