Why Are All Those People Outside H&M, Again?

How consumers became obsessed with fashion collaborations, courtesy of the Swedish mall staple.

The year is 2015. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Negotiations are about to begin on the Paris Climate Accords. Mainstream pop culture is essentially “Hamilton,” “Hotline Bling” and true crime docuseries. And Olivier Rousteing is at the H&M store on the Champs-Élysées, where he is starting to feel the pressure of the pandemonium outside. A policeman, he recalled, told him it was unsafe and he should leave.

Mr. Rousteing, the creative director of the French luxury brand Balmain, was making an in-store appearance for the debut of his collaboration with H&M. Just about

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