£180 – katespade.com
£510 – neimanmarcus.com
Having been promoted by worldwide fashion elites from as early as May this year, it came as no surprise that the H&M x Balmain collaboration was going to be the most popular one to date. The collection not only put fashion lovers in a spin for months on end hoping to bag a Balmain bargain, but also those that wanted the chance to feel part of the exclusive ‘Balmain Army’ living life as “#squadgoals.” There is no doubt that many shoppers took inspiration from Kim Kardashian West, who is an avid wearer of the brand, and good friend of designer, Olivier Rousteing. Along with advertisement from the rest of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, as well as a music video and various catwalk shows, the build-up contributed to it being the fastest selling HM designer collaboration, selling out online and in-store (to many people’s dismay) within a couple of hours.
The intricate women’s collection featured 69 unique pieces, consisting of an array of heavily embellished dresses, faux fur leather jackets, beaded blouses and blazers, velvet trousers, and gold costume jewellery. Using the distinguishable Balmain black and gold colour scheme, Rousteing also sleeked up the collection with monochrome, hints of red, navy and dark green. A few products also slightly mirrored colours that were used in the 2013 Versace x H&M collaboration, including the pink beaded dress and silk blouse, as well as the neon green sequin dress. Despite minor criticism over stock volumes and technical difficulties online, Olivier deserved every success with this extraordinary, incredibly detailed women’s collection, and in the opinion of many fashion writers, has exceeded former designer partnerships by miles.
In previous years, I haven’t been totally invested in the H&M collaborations. I can appreciate the designs, and hard work that must have gone into creating such a thing, but nothing got my bones rattling unlike this batch of Balmain. So in preparation the night before the big release, I set my alarm in anticipation for 8am, giving myself plenty of time to be up, ready and raring to log on to the H&M website. My subconscious must have been working overtime as I woke up immediately at 5 in the morning, anxiously eager to get a head start, and sign on to the website early. I was able to access the page and became almost certain I’d be able to bag the black blazer and devoré scarf that I had been dreaming about for so long. But at 15 minutes to 9, the worst happened, and I was redirected to the ‘try again’ page for no reason at all, which according to various Twitter posts was happening to many customers. From there on, it started my long and extremely agonising wait to try and get back in (much to my neighbours annoyance, there was a lot of screaming). I ended up with four tabs open on my laptop, one on my home computer, and the H&M app on my phone. It is safe to say that if I had earned a penny for every click I made on ‘try again’, I could’ve purchased the whole collection. After an hour solid of refreshing, I accepted that there would be none left for me, so I decided to move on with my life, and went to watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, dreaming of the day where I could afford official Balmain.
At around 11am, I thought I would try my luck one last time, this time around checking the H&M website on my phone. Through nothing other than sheer luck, I was directed straight through to the Balmain page. I had excitement in the pit of my stomach like a child searching the Argos catalogue at Christmas, especially when I saw the products I wanted were still available! Unfortunately, by the time I got through to the checkout my blazer and scarf had sold out, which is no surprise considering their great value, but at this point I had accepted it was unlikely on getting the blazer. Nevertheless, I was lucky enough to purchase my other favourites, consisting of the black and white ribbed skirt, black velvet T-shirt, and bottle green suede clutch.
Fast-forward to this week and my products arrived, and I couldn’t have opened the box quick enough! The skirt is insanely gorgeous; any dream of getting a Kimmy K hourglass shape and booty has become a reality. It fits me like a glove, pulling in at the waist and ending at a flattering length just on the knee. The fabric is high quality, and in all, is of great value at £39.99. The clutch, priced at £24.99, is exceptionally reasonable for real leather/suede. It is a lot smaller than I anticipated, but I guess it would be the perfect size for Christmas parties, with more than enough space to fit money and makeup in. The top is also a great purchase, and again, very reasonable at £24.99. From what I could tell by the website, this product and the white T-shirt were extremely popular and sold like wildfire, especially to those that didn’t want to spend too much on the colab, but wanted a piece of the collection. It’s simple with just the brand embossed across the front in velvet, but it can easily be dressed up or down, depending on how you feel. I love love love them!
One thing that should be mentioned is how truly disgusting it is that many were able to purchase products, only to get them straight onto eBay within minutes, and selling for triple the price. Those kinds of people are awful, greedy human beings, and it is so unfair for those than genuinely wanted something from the collection. I really do not understand how some sellers managed to get an array of products, and in each and every size going – it should be against the law of fashion! For those that didn’t get their hands on any, my heart goes out to you, #firstworldproblems right? I will thoroughly enjoy my items, and can confirm I will not be wasting them by putting them up for sale on eBay. They are classic pieces that I can keep and enjoy for a long time.
It’ll be extremely interesting to see what designer will be in the line up for next year’s partnership with H&M. So far rumours are flying around that it could potentially be Moschino, Saint Laurent, Chloé or Marc Jacobs. My money would be on a Jeremy Scott takeover, but it would be amazing to see a Saint Laurent stint in stores, we will just have to wait and see once the hype of this has died down. But for now a round of applause, and huge congratulations to Olivier Rousteing for such an amazing, and beautifully designed collection. Here’s looking forward to next year’s collaboration!
I fell in love with the United States nearly four years ago when I first visited the bright lights of New York City in December 2011. Having spent less than a week there in the lead up to Christmas, the city seemed so magical, just like you would expect from the movies. Ever since I touched back down in Heathrow from that trip, I just knew that one day I had to return to the land of the free, and see far more of it than just the little island of Manhattan.
This summer, my dream finally became a reality, and I was lucky enough to take a trip of a lifetime, venturing over to the United States for six weeks. Being in the in-between stages of finishing university and finding full-time work, there never seemed like a better opportunity to go. So on the 18th Of July, my boyfriend and I jumped aboard a Norwegian Air Dreamliner bound for JFK Airport, and waved adios to England for the summer…
…and what a summer it was. I can honestly say that I had the most amazing time of my life, and couldn’t have been happier. I can also say that I have never felt more inspired to get a job out in Los Angeles where the sun is shining, or in NYC, the heart of everything! In total we spent ten days in New York, 12 days in Miami, 2 INCREDIBLE nights in Las Vegas, 13 days in Los Angeles and 5 days in Seattle.
I definitely favoured some places (VEGAS) more than others (Seattle), but wouldn’t change the trip for anything. I just know that the next time I visit the States, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, I’ll probably find myself drunk, sat at a slot machine in Caesar’s Palace once again! 😝
Thank you once again for an amazing summer, USA!! 🇺🇸
P.S. I am not normally a drunken gambler…
P.P.S. Vegas changes people.
Welcome to the redevelopment of my blog! Time and time again I have resorted to explaining why I have not posted in so long, but after one hell of a final year at university, and an incredible summer in the United States – I have the perfect excuse.
Now with time to spare, and having a flick through my archives of old blog posts, I think it is fair to say to myself that some were a little immature, and not the kind of thing I would want associated when applying for jobs nowadays. The time had definitely more than come to have a good old clear out, and rebrand my WordPress as something I would be proud of going forwards into my career. — Saying that, I am not disappointed in any of the posts. They may be a little (a lot!) cringeworthy, but it was all part of the development in my writing practice, just simply laying the foundations down for how I write today.
Partnered with some amazing work experience with companies including ITV, Heat magazine and my local newspaper, the Bournemouth Echo, I feel that my writing has become a lot more refined, and I think I have definitely found my particular niche. Now more than ever, I am entirely comfortable changing up the style or tone depending on what particular media platform I am writing for.
I am also extremely proud to say I will be graduating my Multimedia Journalism degree with a 2:1 classification, something which I never thought would be achievable. After three years of blood, sweat and tears, a few near misses, and a thousand breakdowns, I completed the unimaginable. If I was told I would be in this position five years ago, I probably wouldn’t believe it, so big up to me for getting my shit together!
The current goal as of present is to 1) find myself a job which I love and am passionate about, 2) appreciate life….and 3) start paying off my university debt. DAMN. And regarding this blog, it’s out with some of the old, and in with the new. Enjoy!
Young children in the UK are exposed to sexualisation on a daily basis. From music videos to magazines, there is evidence to support that these factors can have a long-lasting psychological effect on children. Recent evidence has concluded that there is a direct correlation between clothing and media content, which could cause mental health risks, particularly in adolescent girls.
Dr Arthur Cassidy is a media psychologist who specialises in the over-sexualisation of children’s clothing in the fashion industry.
Jan Shaw has been making clothes for as long as she remembers. As a child she would knit clothes for her Barbie dolls, which led to her making clothes for herself and selling some on to friends. It wasn’t until later life when she had her first grandchild four years ago that she decided to start making clothes again.
Jan was involved in a project in the Philippines where she sponsored a young boy who was living as a street child. She visited the country for two weeks to help teach children various skills, but when she returned to England she left wondering how she could raise money for those desperately in need.
The church which Jan is a part of started up a charity to support these street children, and she initially organised a craft fair, which raised over £2000. Knowing it wasn’t viable to host an event every week she began selling her clothes online where she donated all profits made to the charity.
Based in Dorchester, Dorset, Jan runs her business Jan Jan Creations from a sewing room in her home. Her products are then advertised online on her Etsypage. Jan designs her products with the children in mind; she considers comfort, appropriateness and usability the most important qualities in her work.
With the rise of sexualised clothes in the mass market, it seems that increasingly more people are starting up independent clothing business to fill a large gap in the market. Retailers are simply not providing the public with the best clothes for their children and are turning to alternative methods as a resolution.
Leather bodycon skirts, studded high heels and padded lingerie are all products you would expect to see hanging in a women’s high street store, not something you’d stumble across whilst in the children’s section. Nevertheless in the last five years, there has been a sharp increase in products marketed in large retail stores that are deemed highly inappropriate for young girls to wear.
Four years ago, to try and bypass the issue, the Department for Education released the Bailey Review – Letting Children Be Children. The government believed that children of the United Kingdom were living in a pressurised environment, conditioning them to ‘grow up too quickly,’ and requested guidance from the Chief Executive of Mother’s Union, Reg Bailey, on how to address the sexualisation of childhood and the ways in which it could be resolved. In total he came up with fourteen various recommendations that included the introduction of age restrictions on music videos and Internet censorship of adult online material.
The sixth recommendation was to develop a specific code of good practice when retailing to children. This meant restrictions on all products for girls including clothing, accessories, underwear, bikinis, high heels, slogans and even certain fabrics used to make them, such as lace. Bailey stated that ‘parents want age appropriate clothes, not scaled down versions of adult fashion.’
But in the time that has passed not a great deal has changed, and retailers are still selling clothing that many people feel are too ‘explicit’ for children. Searching through racks of clothes for her kids, Ruth Lopardo realised that clothing made for girls these days were one of two things; either highly gender-stereotyped or extremely over-sexualised.
“Most of the clothes that are marketed on the high street towards girls are so stereotypical, they are pink with ‘little princess slogans’ or are highly sexualised, and that really concerns me. From about eight or nine, up to when a child is fully grown and can wear normal clothes, there’s a real scarcity and a lot of what there is, is just scaled down adult clothes.”
Fed up with being offered minimal choice, Ruth decided that she would fill a gap in the market with the creation of her Newcastle based children’s brand – ‘Love it Love it Love it.’ Knowing this wasn’t enough to make a substantial impact on the issue, Ruth and her business partner Francesca Aitkin initiated their first campaign ‘Let Clothes Be Clothes,’ which aimed to create a movement here in the UK.
One of the most recent shops to feel the wrath of Ruth’s campaign was retail giant John Lewis. Just before Christmas 2014 during the hype of ‘Monty the penguin,’ the company sent tongues wagging when they began advertising bras for girls as young as two on their website. Parents and various campaigners like Ruth from around the country complained, and when contacted the store stated that there had been ‘an error in loading the item onto our site, which meant it was labelled incorrectly by age and not by size.’ Nevertheless, the product description remained the same for some time, until they eventually altered the name of the product from bra, to crop top.
Other leading fashion brands have also come under scrutiny in recent months. Ruth believes that Next and River Island are also in the long list of culprits that aren’t adhering to retail codes of practice.
“In terms of sexualisation of clothes in the high-street, we see Next as a company that keeps continually being pointed out for over-sexualising girls, and also some of the more fashionable stores like River Island that are aimed at adolescents and young adults and then expand into kids wear. It may be due to a lack of experience in dealing with children.”
An aspect that concerns many, especially child psychologists, is the long-term lasting effect that exposure to over-sexualisation has on children. Recent evidence has concluded that there is a direct correlation between clothing and media content, which could cause mental health risks, particularly in adolescent girls.
Ruth was not the only mother to be concerned about the psychological effects that clothing may have on young girls. In October last year, Huffington Post journalist Stephanie Giese wrote an article about how retailers are ‘normalising sexy before children even understand what sex is’. Like Ruth, she also had young girls to clothe, so using her position of power as a journalist; Stephanie made the issue a matter of public interest.
“We need to take responsibility as a culture for the messages that we present to our girls and show them that we value their bodies as well as their minds. We need to remember that we are not raising girls, we are raising women.”
Back in 2010, Mumsnet, one of the largest UK websites for parents, developed a similar campaign to Ruth and Stephanie’s called Let Girls Be Girls. It stemmed from users of the website who were concerned that increasingly sexualised products were affecting the minds of children. Their aim was to challenge retailers and ask them to not sell products that exploit children at a young age.
Five years on and spokeswoman Jane Gentle has said that ‘since the main thrust of support, numerous large retailers continue to back the campaign, and along with the support and endorsement by the government’s Bailey Review, change can and will certainly be achieved’.
“We continue to talk and highlight key issues as and when users ask them to. The aim of the campaign isn’t to demonise any particular person or retailer; it’s about joining forces for a change.”
Ruth believes that parents will eventually boycott large retailers, and turn to independent clothing makers that can be found online on social media or on websites such as Etsy – but she has her concerns over the pricing of unique products.