The Unbearable Anguish of Limited Editions
If you love fashion, and I know you do, you awaited the launch of Erdem X H&M with equal parts adrenaline and dread. The collection was promoted for months, and each piece was a winner. Since we can't afford Erdem's ready to wear prices, this was a chance to indulge in the award-winning designer's uniquely glorious aesthetic.
Wrong! This was actually a chance to suffer deep disappointment when the website predictably crashed during the first hours of the launch, and shoppers who had waited in line before daybreak succeeded in buying up everything before you could say "SHIT, AGAIN?"
Limited editions are a great marketing ploy, triggering your FOMO, your materialism, your hidden desire for status and admiration. You want to get in on it. You HAVE to get in on it. And the whole thing is magnified when the actual product is intrinsically special.
Many of the Erdem X H&M pieces were instantly available on eBay for triple their price-tags. Heartbroken shoppers took to twitter to denounce the flaws in the H&M system. A previous collaboration with Balenciaga led to even more drama, with stores being shut down by police for the public's safety.
What if they just made more product, enough for everyone who wanted it? Just asking.
The only time I really expected to snag a limited edition collaboration piece from H&M was the Viktor and Rolf collection, when I almost bought a coat that was five sizes too big for me just to own it. Luckily I snapped out of it. But when Rihanna's Fenty X Puma released her creepers in pink without warning me, I went nuts. I searched and searched, determined to find a pair. It seemed like a miracle when they turned up in my size on eBay. Weeks after I bought them, the seller notified me that she'd changed her mind about selling them.
If you wait long enough, you will lose your passion for the thing you needed so desperately, but you won't forget that irrational sense of deprivation. Limited editions are designed to arouse emotions and avarice but even knowing that, it's hard to wait it out. I personally don't care for Balenciaga since it's become Kardashianized, but when I saw they were collaborating with L'Oreal for a limited edition of matte lipsticks, I was naturally agitated; God forbid someone tries to release a matte red lipstick without letting me have one.
The lipsticks could be pre-ordered at Barneys! Yay, I thought, I win! But they disappeared from the Barneys website. I tried to stay calm. They weren't even out yet. But I kept checking the website like a rat pressing the cocaine lever. When the lipsticks reappeared, I ordered the red, enjoying the flood of endorphins that accompanies a good purchase.
But when the lipstick arrived, I just felt relief at having it, more than the thrill I expected. It was an okay red, not worth the anxiety. However, that was not the end. Far from it. Now, I discovered that premiere make-up artist Pat McGrath had launched a line of matte lipsticks that were said to be the last word in matte quality and luxury. There was one blue-red, called Elson. And Elson was sold out.
Now Elson was the Holy Grail. Each time I saw it on Pat's Instagram, it was a knife in my heart. But she promised there would be more. This time I ordered it from Sephora, as easily as a nothing Clinique moisturizer, no drama at all. And when it arrived, it was life-changing. It was everything it claimed to be, and more. I put it on and I was a fucking goddess. It was light but rich, silky but velvety, pigmenty but without leaving an unwanted stain. I wrote a paean to it on my own blog.
So there I was, no pink creepers and no affordable Erdem, but finally satisfied in the limited edition lipstick department. When next thing you know, I am out in the mall with my husband when we pass a MAC counter. Look, there’s a whole display of holiday colors and kits, beautifully packaged in sparkly cases. Limited editions, all of them. I feel like you know where this is going but I'll tell you anyway.
The holiday lipsticks included a bright matte blue red, called something in the snow, and it was sold out. Sold out everywhere, the sales person noted. Okay, thanks! I told her cheerfully. When she wandered off, I knocked the tester into my handbag, where it belonged, and never looked back. Limited editions are a blight and a challenge but sometimes you have to find your way around it, for the greater good.