When Clicks Get Frantic

Isabel Marant for H&M

After much ballyhooing, the Isabel Marant for H&M collection went on sale today.  I don’t normally get too worked up for these kinds of things, for a lot of reasons.  For one, my life does not allow for lining up outside a store in the middle of the night.  No matter how essential, shopping has to wait until after I drop my kids off at school (or be done online).  So, when I called H&M yesterday to find out how the sale of the year was going to go down and heard that people would be lining up in the wee hours of the morning, I knew I’d need to come up with a different plan.

I was told that online sales would begin at noon EST (nine a.m. my time).  This was perfect!!  Often sales start at hours designed to work on the East Coast but which make no sense on the West Coast.  And I value sleep too much to wake up at 3 a.m. for really anything.  If free Birkin bags hit the market at 3 a.m., I’d pass.  One night of lost sleep takes, roughly, forever to make up when you’re more than a few years out of college.  So forget it.  But 9 a.m. could work. 

So I raced home after drop off.  I had been kind of meandering on the way, when I realized that I only had three minutes to get home (and I was about 4 and a half minutes from my house).  This 90 second difference was crucial, and could mean the difference between internet victory and total failure.  So, as safely as possible, I tried to make up the difference in time.

I was kind of panicking, I’m not going to lie.  I could tell I was not alone in anticipating this sale.  Whenever a hot designer has a sale hitting a discount retailer, it’s a big deal.  But this wasn’t just any hot designer.  It was queen of easy, slighter rocker, perfectly French chic, Isabel Marant.  So I was anticipating a great deal of competition.  Showing up late was not going to help my chances.

As luck would have it, my mother called me back just as I was running up the stairs into my house.  I’d been trying to reach her, so I had to pick up.  And I did, while simultaneously trying to log on the H&M site.  By now it was 9:01.  Had I already missed my chance?

Yup.  The site was already crashed, and was saying something like, “You’ve been placed in a queue,” which really meant, “Sorry, Charlie.  You’re out of luck.  A zillion people got here before you, and you’re welcome to keep hitting refresh, but they’re probably getting all the good stuff now.  Wah wah.” I’m glad I had my mom on the phone, because it helped take my mind off the fact that precious seconds were wasting away.  Twelve minutes of page refreshing got me nowhere, except slightly mad (as in crazy, not angry.  Well not much.  Mostly just panicky.).

Finally, at roughly 9:14 a.m., I made it in to the site.  There were lots of things left!  It hadn’t all sold out yet!  I was frantically adding things to my bag, trying to sort through the wonders and keep only the things I’d really love (and which weren’t duplicative of things already in my closet).  Even internet shopping under the gun is taxing.  You might not be able to see your competition, but they’re there nonetheless.  Knowing that things could still be sold out by the time you reach check out means that your choices are really all preliminary, and could come to naught at the end of the day.  So, you’ve got to make your choices smartly and quickly.

When I finally had made it through all the items and placed what I loved in my bag, it totalled over $1400.  Ok, that’s not happening.  So I had to go through and winnow.  That’s when I realized that roughly 25% of the things I’d placed in my cart were already sold out.  Including the piece I was most excited about– the metallic (and reversible) Pilot jacket (a glorious bomber that could probably go with everything in my closet, if I could only get my hands on it.  Which I could not.).

So I had to dump the things in my basket that were already sold out and the ones that didn’t make my second-round draft picks.  The total became much more reasonable (though still slightly heartbreaking, as some beautiful pieces got away).

The good news is this: I made it out alive.  I got (almost) a full night of sleep.  I wasn’t trampled in a frenzy (which is what I imagine would have happened if I went to an actual store).  I got some rad Isabel Marant items at totally un-Isabel Marant prices.  And I lived to tell.

But my heart is still racing from the stress of it all.

I hope you had luck, however you shopped it!  And if you haven’t yet, there’s always Ebay.  Or Isabel’s main collection.


  • Love this story Ali and happy that you were still able to snatch up a couple of things. Hoping that jacket will pop back up for you and looking forward to seeing what you got. 😉


    • Alexandra

      Thanks, Theresa! Did you shop it? You look so amazing in all things Isabel Marant.

      Have a great weekend!


  • Haha, I love this! This is exactly how I feel about making it to popular movie screenings. When I bough Sundance tickets a few weeks ago I pressed refresh a gazillion times before I got in.

    • Alexandra

      Oooh, what tickets did you get? That sounds super exciting!!

      Miss you!!

      • We’re going to go for a full week so we bought a big package! I can’t wait. We have so much to catch up on!

  • kim

    love this story! i was in a similar situation…I got to work early so I could shop it there, then my boss came and chatted with me for about 15 minutes. by the time i got onto the site, i was also placed in the queue! refresh, refresh, refresh until I finally got in, i put 4 things in my cart only to get to checkout and 3 things had sold out. i managed to get the black tuxedo jacket…hopefully it fits!

    have a great weekend!

    • Alexandra

      I LOVE the tuxedo jacket and wish I had gotten it! The stress of finding all your favorite pieces quickly was nearly too much for me!


  • Such a funny story Ali, but I can totally relate to you.
    Can’t wait to see what goodies you managed to get.

    • Alexandra

      Thank you, Alex! I can’t wait to see them in person, myself. 😉


  • Can’t wait to see what you got! I had a similar story, except for the ending…my cart was empty by the time I checked out. 🙁 Oh well!


    • Alexandra

      Oh no!!!! That is such a bummer! Clearly, they could have gotten even more stock! Next time, we’ll need to have a different strategy! 😉