How I Managed To Snag This Much At #HMBalmaination

Key tips from the winner of our Skip The Queue contest

Ed’s note: Ai Jia’s Skip The Queue contest entry stood out because it was both hilarious and showed that she was really passionate about the collection. Of course we had to pick her to be the winner!


Counting down – that’s what my friends and I had been doing since the Balmain x H&M collaboration was announced in May. Whenever new photos from the collection were released, we’d text each other excitedly to fuss over the designs together. We love Balmain’s intricate, luxurious creations and this was our one chance to own them at a much more affordable price. When the lookbook and prices came out in October, we started to plan our wish list and strategies.

On the week of the launch, news broke that the queue had already started on Monday, a full three days before the event. But we were unfazed since we had won the ELLE X H&M Skip The Queue contest!

At 7am on 5 November, my best friend and I confidently walked to the store and informed the staff that we were THE winners and received our wristbands to be among the first batch of 30 shoppers.

To say that I felt like the luckiest person there would be an understatement. We saved days of queuing and could shop after a good night’s rest. I’ve not been so excited in a long time, except for those moments I danced around right after receiving the winner’s notification email! 

My past three shopping (and queueing) experiences for H&M designer collaborations still hadn’t prepared me for the absolute madness that descended upon us when we were ushered into the store, however.

My top tip for the uninitiated at this point: Keep your eyes on the prize – that is, make a beeline for the one item you most desire once the barrier is lifted. Clothes were flying off the shelves fast and furious, and some racks were stripped bare in seconds. 

We trudged on even though the sheer weight of the heavily beaded clothes slowed us down and were rewarded when we came across items that we hadn’t considered at first but turned out to be great buys.

Those 10 minutes in the special cordoned-off area of the store, where the collection was at, were just surreal. When we came out, a feeling of euphoria and relief washed over us. We had managed to get almost everything we wanted – the limited edition beaded dresses and tops, the rich green velvet dress, that gorgeous beaded silk blouse, the lovely red skirt and more!

It was so much fun bringing home those coveted pieces, trying them on and revelling in the pleasure of it all. My friend and I have already worn some of our favourite pieces out (see top photo!) and can’t wait to rock the rest.

It was such an amazing experience and I cannot fully express how grateful I am to ELLE for running this contest and for liking my story enough to choose me as the winner.

In fact, I think I’m actually having withdrawal symptoms from #HMBalmination! Excuse me while I go off to obsess about which designer H&M will be collaborating with next.

Photos: Lim Ai Jia

For more personal fashion experiences, check out Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Shoes? and The Guy Who Rents A Storage Unit For His Clothes.

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