“Balmain Wanted to Make a Much Larger Collection” – Ann-Sofie Johansson on Design Collaboration

H & M’s creative Adviser Ann-Sofie Johansson reveals for the women’s World what they changed from the original sketches, which is the favorite garment and Olivier Rousteing initially wanted to make a much larger collection.

Congratulations on such a successful collection! How you celebrated when Balmain accepted?
— Balmain have long been on our little list of preferred collaborations so we celebrated together. Now we celebrate even more when the collection is complete, after working with it for over a year.

How long did you deal with them before they accepted?
“It went very fast! Olivier like H & m. He will remember how it was when he was young. He could not afford real designer clothes but could find stuff at H & m. it’s so wonderful that he has the experience and because he thought that he wanted to do a collaboration with us! In addition, he was an Assistant at Cavalli when we cooperated with them, so he was experienced.

What you wanted to convey in the collection?
“We really wanted to have Olivier’s hallmark for Balmain, we want to with all the designers we work with; we want their ‘ signature style!

How did you do to get it?
– At our first meeting had Olivier already a clear picture of what he wanted to do and it was the icon he created garments during his first five years at Balmain. He presented the idea to us and it was just what we wanted. So it was a smooth process. He had a clear vision of what he wanted to do and is a clear designs. Since he was receptive to our feedback on what our customers typically want and our suggestions based on it.

Was there any garment he wanted to do that did not come with the final collection?
– Yes, he wanted to make a much larger collection of around 60-70 garments. Now the collection up in just over 40. That’s what we usually like to have in a collaboration that the collection should not be too large. But the deletion was not the easiest. All he did was really nice!

How did you do when you would cancel as many garments?
“Firstly we thought we wanted a price spread which is important for H & m. We want everyone to feel that they can buy anything. For example, we did everything from a t-shirt, the cheapest product, up to a dress in a limited edition. That way we had with something everyone can buy and a garment where we could take Balmain’s design in full.

Can you give some examples of garments you took away?
“Yes, we have removed some decorated garments. Hand embroidery takes a very long time to produce as it was if we didn’t have the capacity. The collection now includes many decorated garment, but it could have been even more.

Have you encountered any conflicts during the process?
– Haha, no, actually no fashion drama at all. We said it, we need to create some drama. But, no.

Where have you been compromise?
– Olivier would like to make short dresses. We also like the card, but maybe not as short as he. And he would have been able to have yet more gold buttons. He loves gold buttons! But we said it may not need to be so many right here. There were no conflicts but rather discussions and he’s very receptive to feedback.

As Olivier has a correct itself after you?
“Yes a little bit…

What surprised you the most?
– He was so involved. It may not have surprised me, but he is a very warm and lovely person. We laughed a lot and it was fun that way too. Then it’s wonderful, he’s 30 years old and has come so far. He’s smart!

How is your design processes differ?
– Not so much. He was incredibly dedicated to this collection and has a small team that he is very near. It was very intimate, we were at their Office and did all the tests. It felt intimate which was incredibly beautiful. To see different designers processes when we do collaborations is so funny.

What is your favorite piece?
“I love the jacket I’m wearing now, a long Blazer with gold buttons. There’s a lot that feels tailoring and useful. Since I love velvet jacket with beads decorations. It’s so iconic, from one of his first collections for Balmain and I know that he has a special relationship with it. That I think is fantastic and also a piece of clothing that you can save and keep the rest of his life. You can always pick up the if you want to wear something special. Or have it just for everyday use with jeans. You can dress it up or dress it down, that’s the trait I appreciate most in a garment.

In what way does Olivier a special relation to the jacket?
“I think it’s because it belongs to one of his first collections when he was a bit of an untried short. But also that he really could go the whole hog and got the design that he always wanted to do. Unlike when he was an Assistant he had to decide, and for the first time to do exactly as he wanted.

How much does H & M on making design collaboration?
“We never respond specifically on what we earn but of course earn the mark on this. Cooperation creates a buzz and I even believe that we reach out to new customers, and it also applies to Balmain. Olivier has so many young fans, and I think he thinks it’s fun and exciting to now reach out to them with this collection. I know that they learn a lot from us, too. How we work with our prices and what we can achieve. Then it will be really good cooperation.

Which design collaboration do you dream about in the future?
“Yes God we may well see, now I’m so inside the Balmain-the world and has been in a little over a year, so it feels a little sad that it’s over. We’ll see what comes next. We have a small wish list but I can’t reveal more about now…