Is Maison Martin Margiela's H&M Collaboration Subversive in Nature?

Martin Margiela’s Inside Joke: Getting to the Heart of MMM for H&M Bullett Media

On November 10th, hundreds — perhaps thousands — of “placid fashion advocates” marched in San Francisco and in eight other countries with a seemingly manufactured protest in favor of H&M’s new collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela. The result is a collection expected to sell out today.

Note that Martin Margiela left his house in 2009, and questions about meaning and intention in the House of Margiela current owners Renzo Rosso’s OTB Group, which also owns Viktor & Rolf and Diesel. Critics of the H&M/Martin Margiela collaboration are questioning what it means to buy supposed anti-fashion from the most mainstream rag trade company on the planet — Swedish retailer H&M, the world’s second largest retailer after Zara.

WWD reports that crowds were smaller than expected in Paris this morning, but the racks did clear out. Color-coded bracelets, a hallmark of H&M designer launches, weren’t necessary to control access to the store and the staff had time to hand out coffee and croissants.

Is Bullett writer Fiona Duncan correct when she postulates that Maison Margiela is actually beng subversive in their H&M collaboration?  Consider the possibility:

If the Maison isn’t making money from their H&M products, what are they gaining? Exposure, maybe. But I think it’s something more: MMM’s H&M repros make obvious the differences in material (in quality and production) and belief (insider versus mass) between their once elite clothes and those of high street. The paradox is so obvious, it can’t not be intentional. Team Margiela is doing their most disruptive work yet, no longer standing, discrete and whitewashed, on the outside, but fucking things up from the inside. As a proponent of the cult of MMM, this is what I choose to see. I choose to believe that the collaboration is a continuation of Margiela’s funhouse-mirror reflection of the fashion system, an inside joke and an insidious proposal of protest, a statement on authenticity and mechanical reproduction. That’s true anti-fashion.

Maison Martin Margiela with H&M

Other thoughts are roaming my mind. NOT VOGUE is making nearly daily visual declarations called BANALIZATIONS, accompanied by in-your-face taunts like ‘KARL LAGERFELD NEEDS YOU. YOU DO NOT NEED KARL LAGERFELD.’ Intriguing.

For years I’ve connected the fashion dots as a Smart Sensuality woman — arguing that fashion needn’t be anti-consumption,  but rather that in today’s world we must embrace a different set of values that involve our responsibility to the planet, to workers, to philanthropy and to a positive embrace of female values and self-affirmation. All of these issues matter to the Smart Sensuality consumer.

These values are the hallmark of my new GlamTribale jewelry and gifts collection and also our less expensive Tribale2 line. Pursuing Tribale2, the same set of values apply. We continue to pay fair trade wages and use surgical steel wires. The design is similar, if not as complex time-wise. I continue to ask the same questions about the decisions we’re making and their impact on the environment.

In trying to create product that is more affordable to more people — because bringing beauty and meaning to large numbers of people has always been my goal — the values of Anne of Carversville, our friends and readers must remain intact. The Martin Margiela collaboration with H&M puts this specific issue front and center in our minds. For another view of this same question, read The Case Against Fast Fashion Collaborations at The Business of Fashion. ~ Anne

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