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Health, Beauty & Fashion

He works hard for the Marni

I queued for over 12 hours for 10 minutes of shopping for the Marni at H&M
The Straits Times - March 10, 2012
By: Rohaizatul Azhar
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He works hard for the Marni The new Marni collection includes a gold brocade print blouse. -- PHOTO: MARNI AT H&M

I coveted. I queued. I wiped out my bank account. Well, almost.

It is 10am on a drizzly Thursday morning and I've just completed the most difficult thing I've ever done - queue overnight with other shoppers for more than 12 hours to buy the much-coveted Marni at H&M collection.

The total damage? A huge dent of almost $3,000 ($2,750.90 to be exact) to my wallet, and a backache from sitting for endless hours on the unforgiving pavement.

Not to mention wet socks and jeans, courtesy of the early morning downpour.

For the uninitiated, Marni at H&M is a one-time exclusive designer collaboration collection between the quirky Italian high fashion label and the Swedish high street retailer.

Apart from trendy clothes and accessories, H&M, which has been in Singapore for about a year, is also known for its hook-ups with big fashion labels such as Versace and Lanvin.

This particular designer tie-up with Marni, loved for its playful prints and quirky style, was its latest and launched globally on Thursday.

Add to this the fact that the gear is affordable for most, it is no wonder that many fashion-savvy shoppers did not mind spending the night, and braving inclement weather, outside the store.

Prices for the 111-piece collection, which consists of both menswear and womenswear, range from $14.90 for a pair of socks to $299 for a leather jacket.

In all, almost 500 people were in line for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to get their hands on semi-designer pieces at cut-throat prices.

'It's so exclusive and affordable. Normally, you'd have to spend at least $1,000 just to get a Marni shirt from the boutique,' says Mr Dinie Rahman, 23, a fashion communication student and blogger who was first in line.

He and his two friends started queuing at 12.45pm on Wednesday. The store opened only at 8am the next day.

On Thursday, as we waited for the shop to open, we were divided into groups of 35 and given coloured bands to indicate which time slot we belonged to. Each group had only 10 minutes to shop.

Yes, 10 minutes. That's all we had to grab as many things as possible from a small cordoned-off section located on the first floor of the three-storey store.

It was a fraction of the hours I had put in queuing. I was the 75th person in line and was put in the third group.

Not too bad, considering I arrived only at eight on Wednesday evening after a full day at work at The Straits Times, where I am a writer with its fashion magazine, Urban. A colleague and I came fully equipped with waterproof bags, reading material, pillows and a mat. Others had come with foldable chairs and poker cards to while the night away.

The first three hours flew by quickly. By then, I'd made friends with two transgendered siblings who were queuing behind me. This was the second time they were queuing outside H&M. The first was when the Versace for H&M collection launched in November last year.

Our conversation flowed smoothly from what they wanted ('All the dresses and accessories. They're very pretty') to them teaching me, and the people around us, about safe sex and HIV.

The strange things you learn when queuing for Marni at H&M, I thought to myself.

I sought their shopping advice, since they'd been here before. Just grab everything, they said. Don't worry about sizes because you can tell the sales assistants to help you get the right size after that.

'If you're not sure whether you like the item or not, just take it first and decide later. Only 10 minutes, you don't have time to see if the style is for you or not,' says Ms June Chua, 40, the younger of the two siblings.

Good point, I thought.

With my shopping strategy planned, I tried getting some shut-eye. After 30 minutes of tossing and turning, I realised there was no way I could fall asleep on the hard floor.

I decided to walk around to stretch my legs. We were allowed 15 minutes each time to leave our spot for toilet breaks and the like. The line was now more than 150 people long.

Surveying the crowd, I noticed something amiss. Among the first 50 people in line, dressed sloppily in a polo T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops, was a foreign worker.

Wow, he knew what Marni was?

Later on, I found out that he was paid by a doctor to save her spot while she finished her shift.

I also found out that there were others who were paid up to $300 to queue, only to be relieved of their duties when the coloured bands were given out.

Such a good deal. I should have offered my services too. At least, I'd make some money out of this.

I looked at my iPhone clock and it was only 2.15am. How did I get myself into this situation, I asked myself.

The passion for fashion and the excitement of getting first dibs on the covetable collection had worn off.

Had I not told my editor I was going to get in line, I'd have given up and gone home to my comfortable bed.

I finally fell asleep at about 3am. But I was abruptly woken up by a sudden feeling of wetness. It was raining and my jeans were wet.

It was only 4.30am. Everyone else had either dozed off or was attempting to sleep.

Finally at 6.15am, the staff of H&M arrived and announced that they would give out the coloured bands. My time slot: 8.35am to 8.45am.

When the doors of H&M finally opened at 8am, the first group rushed in, grabbing everything in sight while the rest of us looked on.

At 8.30am, my group had gathered behind the velvet rope, ready to pounce as soon as the word 'go' came from the overhead speakers.

Then, off we went. The next few minutes were a blur. I just remembered chanting 'grab everything, think later' as I threw boxes of bangles and necklaces, shirts and dresses into my shopping bags.

When our 10 minutes were up, I had four bags with me. Gosh, how much will all this cost, I wondered, as I walked towards the cashier.

She started ringing up my selected items and at some point stopped. The amount on the screen was $2,341.20. I thought that was how much I've spent - and then she brought up the last bag.

So there I was standing outside H&M with seven big bags of loot in front of me and wondering how I was going to lug all of it home. More importantly, how did I manage to spend almost $3,000 in 10 minutes?

'Is this all for you? Please tell me you were buying for the whole world as well,' said a friend whom I bumped into outside the store.

I had no answer.

Was it worth it? After a night of sleeping on the pavement - of course. With the very same amount, I'd only have been able to buy maybe two shirts from the label at its boutique in Hilton hotel. Here, I got 30 different things, from ties to socks to shirts and even a parka.

Would I ever do it again? Not for all the Balenciaga bags in the world.

Next time, I'm just going to pay someone else to do it for me.



Chicken curry with soya bean milk