NEW YORK — Viktor & Rolf might want to change its name to Willy Wonka.
Fashion feeding frenzies broke out at H&M stores Thursday (November 9), where women may as well have been screaming, "I've got the golden ticket," as they pulled clothes off the racks at the trendy Swedish chain, which unveiled its exclusive Viktor & Rolf collection. Saleswomen couldn't even refresh the racks without their own security guards in tow, as customers pulled at whatever they could get, not even stopping to check the sizes.
"This is insane," said a saleswoman who was sweating profusely, picking up clothes off the floor and putting them back on hangers at the flagship H&M on Fifth Avenue. "It's amazing how violent some women can be," she said. "They go so crazy over fashion and getting the items, and then they just throw them right on the floor when they realize they don't want them."
Susan Chau, a 26-year-old grad student who had been waiting since 8 a.m., was on the verge of tears. Because of her petite size, she was unable to grab at items, and if she did, other women would snag them from her. "I really want the black trench coat," she said. "But I am physically not capable of getting it."
Other women were trading clothes like baseball cards, holding onto their coveted items for dear life. "I'll give you the button-down for the trench coat," one woman haggled to another. "No way," said the other woman. She walked on by lugging three trench coats and poking people with her hangers.
More than 200 people were lined up outside the Fifth Avenue H&M before it opened its doors at 9 a.m. The scene was expected to be even crazier at the new Los Angeles branch, which was set to open its doors Thursday at noon PT.
In New York, one man had been in line since 2 a.m. just to get his hands on a wedding dress (valued at $349) for his best friend, who is getting married. The fifth person in line had been waiting for the men's underwear, which has "Viktor & Rolf" spelled out on the waistband Calvin Klein-style.
Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are a Dutch duo that are known for their couture pieces, which can only be found at the most expensive and lavish stores across the world. They are hoping to follow in the steps of designers like Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld, who had wild success with their own H&M lines. If the rabid fashionistas who invaded H&M stores were any indication, Horsting and Snoeren could well be on their way to McCartney status.
"It was very strategic," H&M spokesperson Jennifer Uglialoro said of the crowd. "People had maps and handwritten printouts of what they wanted. And they brought friends along so they could buy even more clothes.
"All our small sizes flew off the rack," she added. "Within the first hour, all of our 25 wedding dresses were sold out too." Note: There were only 1,000 Viktor & Rolf wedding dresses made total.
Other pieces that were gone within seconds were the red bubble skirt ($59.90), heart silk blouse ($59.90), trench coat ($129), little black dress with chains ($99.90), white button-down shirt ($39.90) and men's leather shoes ($99.90). By noon ET, items were already up on eBay for double the price, and one trench coat was up to a bid of $400.
Elsewhere in the world — the line is being distributed in all 250 H&M stores — the Viktor & Rolf collection has done "extremely well," Uglialoro said.
"Our Stockholm [Sweden] office is really happy and it exceeded all their expectations. Same with Germany, they did better than they did with Stella or Karl. France did really well with it. And Dubai did really well."