Just earlier today, hundreds of Torontonians were lined up in the bitter cold outside the city’s three H&M stores, ready for the Versace for H&M launch. Some, like the people holed up in a tent at the head of the Bloor West line, had been braving the elements for over 24 hours. I got lucky and only clocked in less than two, yet still netted a respectable place about a hundred people back.
The question is: was it worth it?
For many of the young men lined up, it almost wasn’t. The location I was at didn’t stock much menswear — only a size run or two per garment — leaving many out in the cold.
So if you could get your hands on it, the next test was whether Versace’s quality withstood its transformation from exclusive to accessible. This is where the several collections set themselves apart, especially in terms of wearability and quality.
Higher ticket items, including the Pelle Borchie leather jacket, Tailored wool coat and some of the accessories, had a feel of quality about them only a few degrees south of some mid-range clothiers. The Graphical blazer I bought feels like it should have cost around $400, but only cost $179.
I think to do this, Versace met us halfway. They dispensed with some details I would have killed for, like bringing the black and white fractal lining all the way through the jacket’s sleeves, but still kept true to a 100% wool construction. I can see this becoming my go-to weekend jacket the next 3-4 years. However, the rad t-shirts and button-ups the duo boasted seemed like the usual H&M fare, lasting only handful of seasons before falling apart.
Luckily, most of the men’s stuff doesn’t have too short an expiration date in terms of style. The Graphical, Pelle Borchie and Tailored lines offer a trendy longevity that can still be worn no matter how styles turn, though they’re no classics and seem best worn hitting up the town. The stunning fractal prints, gold studs and the loud cerise are meant to turn heads, after all.
The Stampa line, however, belongs only to the hippest of the hip. Wear it the weekend after launch, because — unless I missed the memo — never again will its neon animal prints and palm fronds be relevant.
This was a bold, refreshing and welcome move by both companies. Versace for H&M played to each brand’s strengths: Versace’s opulence and H&M’s accessibility.
It offers us a taste of the luxuries we may one day be able to afford as accomplished gentlemen, but at the same time invites us to enjoy our youth — and all its whimsical affectations — while we still can.
In short, I couldn’t be happier with the collection. Like the label says: it’s real Versace.