The latest hyped-up, high-low fashion collaboration — Balmain by H&M — hit stores and the internet at 8 a.m. Thursday.
It quickly sold out on H&M’s website and it was impossible to get near it in stores without waiting in line for hours. Fans were going crazy for the collection — while also raging against the people at the front of the lines who’d camped out for hours or days, no doubt to resell the merchandise online.
On reselling outlets like eBay, Craigslist, and Tradesy, people are making a mint by selling the collection secondhand at two or three times the retail value.
We did the maths. Here’s how much these loathed-but-shrewd businesspeople stand to profit.
There are two ways to get access to a collection like this for resale purposes.
Tech Insider/Molly Mulshine
You can either hope for an invitation to a VIP showing or press sale beforehand, or you can line up extra early and hope you’re one of the first people in the store to pick up the best stuff.
Most of the resellers will go with the latter option. Few people who are granted access to such an in-demand collection early would risk being blacklisted from future selling events by tossing the goods onto eBay.
So if you are one of the people who’s willing to wait in line to buy things for resale, you’ll have to get there incredibly early. I got to H&M’s Flatiron, New York City, store at 4:30 a.m. today and was in the fourth group to go into the store, and most of the most in-demand pieces had already been wiped clean from the shelves.
Throughout the entire experience, other people in line could be heard grumbling about resellers the entire time.
So you’re in. But you can’t just grab as many items as possible — there are rules.
H&M limits each person to two of each item. There are 110 items in the collection, according to Racked’s count. That means theoretically, a shopper could leave a fully-stocked store with 220 things.
But we didn’t see anyone leaving with more bags than they could carry. It’s more likely that each early bird had three or four pieces per bag, and with most of them carrying about four bags, let’s say the most die-hard resellers left with 12 to 14 of the biggest-ticket items.
Any reseller worth his salt will know that the most in-demand pieces will be expensive, eye-catching, and probably modelled by a top girl in ads. That narrows a good reseller’s choices down. I could tell which items were most popular with resellers as soon as I got into the store and couldn’t find them anywhere.
Resellers know exactly which items will fetch the highest prices online.
When I got into H&M Flatiron, the glitzy, ornate, beaded dresses trumpeted in the ad campaigns were completely gone. There wasn’t a single one left (besides a lower-priced green one), and only 90 people had been in before me.
So let’s assume the best and brightest resellers nabbed two each of this $US549 dress, this $US649 dress, this $US499 dress, this $US549 jacket, this $US499 shirt, $US399 leather pants in black and green, and this $US299 dress. These $US349 boots were also goners by the time I got into H&M, and I’m told they disappeared quickly at VIP and press previews, too.
By the way, they didn’t just grab the flashiest things. It seems those sellers had the prices completely memorized. This green dress looks like it would be as expensive as the ones mentioned above, but it was the only jeweled cocktail dress still left when I got in. That means the resellers all recognised that, at $US199, the dress would be in slightly less demand than the others.
And let’s not forget about the menswear. Though it wasn’t as heavily advertised as the women’s clothing, men’s stuff was in high demand, too. So we can assume that a really great reseller would have set his sights on these $US349 leather pants, this $US649 bolero jacket, this $US349 black leather jacket, this $US349 red leather jacket, and this $US549 black and gold jacket.
But the cheapest item in the collection — a $US17.99 beanie — disappeared from the floor the quickest. The hats are now selling on eBay for around $US100 each. I even saw one go for $US200, which is almost 12 times the retail price. But the beanie numbers are so absurd we won’t include them in our calculations.
So if you’re a truly savvy reseller, you would have shot for some combination of these 28 items. But as I mentioned, most people I saw leaving couldn’t have squeezed 28 of these heavy-duty, embellished items into the bags they had, so let’s assume they grabbed the best 14 they could find. That would make the average item price of a reseller’s haul (excluding the way cheaper beanie) about $US459.
So if you’re a reseller and you just dropped about $US6,400 on Balmain by H&M, how much can you expect to make?
On eBay, pieces are going for one and a half to three times their retail price. On the online marketplace Tradesy, items are selling for about double, according to a rep.
Tradesy also provided numbers for two similarly high-profile designer collaborations that are still going strong on their website. Last year’s Alexander Wang x H&M collection went for three to five times the retail price during peak periods, Tradesy said. But even today, collection items are still going for almost double their retail rate.
And the still huge but comparably less buzzy Lilly Pulitzer for Target line is also still going strong. The average retail price for items in that line was $US32 and the average sale price on Tradesy is still $US55, also nearly double.
So conservatively, we can assume that while Balmain x H&M resale prices will fluctuate, the items’ re-sale price will probably not dip below 1.5x. In fact, it will probably peak at three to five times the original price, just like Wang’s H&M line did.
That means that if a reseller dropped $US6,400 on items this morning, they can safely assume they will make $US9,600 — although I think that number will be even higher.
That means a net profit of at least $US3,200 if the reseller played their cards right. We’ll let you know what the true numbers end up being in about a month, when most of the stock has been moved online.
Is that worth waiting in line for 12 to 36 hours? That’s up to you. But if you got in line at 3 p.m. like the first few groups at H&M Flatiron, that means you could have made $US3,200 for 17 hours of “work,” averaging out to $US188 per hour.
Not bad — but you also have to deal with being one of the hatest people in the retail world, so there’s that.
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