This is essentially an open letter of appreciation for what my virtual BFF, Larkie – blogger at www.larkieatlarge.com, has been doing for me for the past five years (the duration of our virtual friendship). Technically speaking we are no longer virtual BFFs as we have met irl twice already! For almost 5 years, she has queued up for me for almost all designer H&M or Target collaborations. She will take the effort to queue for me even if she does not want anything major from a particular collaboration but I deemed it major enough for moi.
For once, I am queuing up for her in return. She queued in LA for the past designer collaborations – I had always been virtually there with her. She will be on Yahoo Messenger with me – messaging me with updates on the situation in the queue.
So this round – I decided at the very last minute to queue for Alexander Wang X H&M collaboration. What made me decide to queue was the limited edition Alexander Wang backpack chair that H&M will give out to the first five in the queue! “Wang” also means money in Bahasa Malaysia. So operation $Wang$ was conceived on Sunday, November 02, 2014.
It will be very boring to queue alone – so I WhatsApped Audra (who is the coolest cat in town and the little sister I wished I had. Audra’s Instagram is @AUDRAKAY) and asked if she was going to queue. Of course she said yes. I told her that I’ll be queueing too because I am shallow and I just want the limited edition Alexander Wang X H&M backpack chair! Audra then told me that she will be queuing with two other girls (sorry girls – I don’t mean to be rude and I really really really don’t remember your names). Audra’s plans was to queue for 24 hours! However, I realized that in order to be the first five – I had to queue 36 hours in advance.
I believe I broke the news to Audra on Monday, November 03, 2014 that I intended to start Operation $Wang$ on November 04, 2014 at 8pm! She was quite upset that I was going to start early as she and the other two girls can only queue for 24 hours! I told her I was going to hire 3 part-timers to queue. I will hold one spot for her, one for Larkie and one for myself! And since Audra is like my lil sis – I’ll cover the crew’s wage for her for the first 12 hour shift. For the balance two 12-hour shifts – I will continue to get my crew to hold the spots for me and Larkie (just so she can have the limited edition Alexander Wang X H&M backpack chair). The real reason why I want back pack is written further down – oops sorry – this was the ploy to get you to continue reading this lengthy rambling.
Audra reverted that she could not do this to her friends – they were in this together! And she came back with suggestions that if I started queueing – and if I see other people queuing up after me – she and the other two will dash to either Lot 10 or Avenue K. Here in KL, the collection will only be available at these two outlets. And each outlet will give out 5 limited edition Alexander Wang X H&M backpack chairs to the first five in queue.
In reality, I know Audra’s good intentions towards her friends will not work. So I decided to pay for FIVE part-timers to hold the queue for us at my cost! All three gals were thrilled and I told Audra to tell the other two that they owe her, not me! All three of them will get the backpack chairs as well. In actual fact the hoarder in me wanted to keep two more limited edition Alexander Wang X H&M backpack chairs! Later on when I told my good friend AA that about this – she said didn’t think that I’ll go through with the queue. She clearly “forgot” that I queued up for Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m not a Plastic Bag” for her! AA would have wanted the spare backpack chair and I would have given it to her (as she has been a really awesome friend to be and the best fashion advisor anyone can ever ask for) had I gotten hold of the other two spare ones.
So the hunt for more crew began. I almost could not get FIVE as it was really last minute. But the god of fashion was kind and lo and behold – we managed to get FIVE crew. Operation $Wang$ is now looking promising.
Our whole team of crew arrived in Lot 10 by 8:15pm! I told them to start the queue while I went in to inform H&M that we were all in queue and to double-check that we are queueing at the right spot – the start of the queue!
Obviously the SAs at H&M were quite shocked that we started to queue so early! They kept telling us that the “event” is on November 06 @ 8am. I told them I was well aware of that and that we wanted to ensure that we get the backpack. By 8:30 pm we were all in place and one of my part-timers spotted another group coming to queue. I was too busy arranging the queue logistics to notice them at first. I was busy running in and out of H&M waiting for the person-in-charge at that time to speak to me so I could clarify certain information with them. True enough when I looked at the group (one of the guys in that group had a blue camping backpack chair) – they were walking dejectedly towards Avenue K hoping to be the first five in the queue there.
At the same time – the Lot 10 security guards started to give us grief – they told us we were not allowed to sit down on the pavement. I told them that we were going to queue for 36 hours – how could they expect us to STAND?! I rang Audra (who is in media to call the PR agency handling H&M to alert them that a queue started and that we were not allowed to sit). Then as a back-up – I rang the event management company running this event for H&M to call their client (be it H&M or the PR Agency) to alert them! A side note – my own event management company and the one organizing this for H&M are friendly competitors in the industry!
Audra rang to tell me that the PR Agency is on the way over to help sort us out. And my friendly competitor also rang to tell me that he had already informed his client and the client is on the way to help sort us out!
Operation $Wang$ is looking even better now. Two representatives, Amri and Sher from the PR Agency came to help us – they were in another mall nearby having an event. Amri said they would sort this out. And that Sher will put on her American accent and the guards will back off! The guards were just doing their jobs and they still refused to let us sit. They said we could sit outside of the fence as the walkway outside the fence is public property and the are right outside Lot 10 is Lot 10 property.
So I told my team leader to organize everyone in shifts – when they could take breaks to sit and then go back to the queue! It’s a compromise but what other choice did we have at that time. There were still a lot of negations going one between the PR Agency and Lot 10 management. In the end, the Lot 10 management relented and allowed us to sit.
A little while later – H&M staff brought out some q-poles and the five man queue finally resemble a queue of sorts.
I was relieved, rang Audra to tell her that all was good at our end. She promised to arrive at 8am sharp to relief (?) my crew. Then Audra asked if I could give out Larkie’s spot in the queue to Sher. I told her yes I could because Larkie will only be holding her spot “virtually”! And then Amri approached me and asked if I could hold his spot till November 05, 2014! I was shocked that as H&M’s PR Agency, they don’t get preferential treatment for designer collaborations. However, it’s so ethically correct to not give preferential treatment to staff and agencies. This way, everyone gets a fair chance.
Aside from my five crew in the queue – I was there myself and my dog-sitter was there with me! I initially brought her as a back-up in case any of the crew bails out last minute and we would be left in the lurch. And Amri asked if we could hold another spot for someone else. Within 10 minutes – we managed to get another two crew to hold the spots for Amri. My dog sitter and I stayed back till midnight when the two extra crew came over to take over our spots. And at the same time – we called more crew to cover the two extra spots for the next 24 hours. Again the God of Fashion was kind and we managed to get everything sorted.
Now Operation $Wang$ has seven people at the front of the queue. H&M staff came out to give us umbrellas and water. I then left and told my crew that I’d be back by 8am to oversee the shift change.
When I reached home – I realized I had forgotten to eat dinner! I was too tired to raid the fridge so I just slept! When you are in the Wang War or any war for that matter, sleep whenever possible and conserve energy! Lol
8am, November 05, 2014 – Back to Operation $Wang$’s site. Thanks, Audra and girls for being punctual. I had to wait till 10pm as they had been some minor tweaks for our shift schedule. BF had to pick up one of my friend’s daughters to come stay in queue. Then BF and I went to grab lunch and I told the crew I’d be back at 8pm to oversee the final crew change.
To add on to all this madness, on November 05, 2014, BF and I had to go to Rudy Project’s flagship store in Jaya, Section 14 to collect our winning prize. We won Rudy Project’s Instagram contest and won a pair of glasses. At 2pm when we reached Rudy Project’s flagship store – BF told he had not start work on the artwork that I want printed out to plug my Instagram account. I rang our office and got our in-house designers to quickly work on the file and to send me the Final Artwork so I could get it printed!
After the prize collection – I had to run to sample EspressoLab’s Christmas Latte as we were selected to be one of their Christmas Coffee Connoisseurs. I needed my caffeine fix anyways! So off we trooped to EspressoLab! And while waiting for my latte, BF and I started calling our printers to see who could print the signage out on time for us we wanted it printed in 30 minutes.
After coffee, we collected the printing. Went to a panel beater to assess the damage on BF’s mom’s car. BF’s business partner “decided to” close the gate on the car as I was reversing out! The bumper was damaged. After the assessment, we headed back to the office and I sat down quickly to contemplate my Wang shopping list.
Since we managed to get the printing done – we decided to bring one of our “furshionistas” down to Lot 10 to “queue”. For those of you who do not know, we are proud parents of three Shih Tzus. Their names are Krystl Meth, Angel Dust and Space Monkey as they are my “drugs”. After all – we just wanted the backpack chair for our “furshionistas”. A lot of dog-friendly restaurants will not allow furkids to sit on human customer’s chair. With the Alexander Wang x H&M chair – they will be able to sit on their own Alexander Wang chair and be a true “furshionista”!
Krystl stayed in queue for about three hours! While she was in queue – we had five complete strangers offering to buy her. One “buyer” opened the price at USD2000! Do they not understand that selling her is like asking me to sell my daughter?
We left the queue around midnight and this time I just had one crew working to hold my place. The plan was for me to get back by 6:30 a.m. as they’d start tagging people at 7:00 a.m. By the time I left H&M Lot 10 – I was already having cold feet and was seriously thinking of cutting down on my buys. Had a quick discussion with virtual BFF, Larkie. She too agreed I should cut back as we both want a couple of items from the upcoming Adidas Mary Katrantzou collaboration.
6:30 a.m., November 06, 2014. I thought I was prepared. Tired but prepared. This tiredness later cost a lot of damage as my cerebral processing power operated at an all time low! And visions of Adidas Mary Katrantzou collection kept popping up in my head. I told Larkie I’d just go with the flow.
To cut a long story short – all hell broke loose when we were allowed in. I thought I was prepared – functional clothes and shoes that will allow me to try on clothes without going to the changing room! I was in my Black Camo Lululemon top, Y3 cropped bottom and Prada flip flops. And to free my hands to grab stuff, I committed fashion faux pas by wearing a bum bag.
We were allowed to go the the men’s section first. BF was having a bit of a fashion withdrawal and did not want anything from the collection. I wanted to get him something. So I grabbed a t’shirt for him and a pair of shorts. I was also supposed to grab the scuba bag for another journalist friend. No luck with the scuba bag. And I spent a bit too much time at the men’s and when I went downstairs to the ladies’ section – I was no longer the first few in the queue. I was probably 15th or 16th in the queue.
When we were allowed in to the ladies’ section – all hell broke lose – no more cropped sweater left! I managed to grab a grey on but I grabbed the wrong size. Yet another journalist friend asked me to help her get one in XL. No luck with that either. Then I grabbed the dresses, t’shirts, yoga mats, boots, and the open toe boots.
I was really tired then and decided to not try. Larkie and I always strategize and said to not waste time trying. I just headed straight to the counter to pay. And to my great dismay, the open toe boots did not make it to the counter! I have no idea what happened. Then there was a pair in size 37 at the counter – it was the display pair – I grabbed that although my shoe size is 35!
After paying, I still could not leave because one of Audra’s friends were still trying on clothes! My crew was outside H&M guarding our “camping” possessions. I told the girl trying on clothes to hurry as I real wanted to go back and SLEEP!
At that point – the goggles drama happened. The girl trying on the clothes managed to get a display pair of the goggles and Audra voiced to me that she wanted that goggles too. Audra is “family” – of course I want her to have the goggles and it’s because of her that the other two girls get into top 7 of the queue! Perhaps she is tired and was not thinking straight because the right thing to do was to offer the goggles to Audra but she adamantly asked the H&M staff to hang on to the goggles till she was done. I took matters into my hands and explained the situation to the H&M staff – she gave me the goggles, I went to pay for it. And later Audra approached me to buy it off me.
Audra later explained to me that the girl trying on the clothes only bought stuff for her friends and she wanted to keep the goggles for herself. I’m sorry but life is never fair and it’s war – the Wang War! Had I known she was buying stuff for her friends to earn a little margin – I would have kicked her out of our top 7 spots! Anyway – she got the backpack chair for being part of the first five. If she sells that for money – I will go ballistic!
When I reached my office – I initially though I’d stash everything away and try them on the next day. However, I could not resist trying on the stuff and to my great disappointment – the dresses were too tight – I grabbed 32 and 34! Why oh why did I not grab 36? 34 is a tight fit! And a lot of the tees were too big!
I am sad – I feel like crying. I am waiting for a.m. LA time for Larkie to wake up so she can send me a virtual hug. At least I got the backpack! That’s my only consolation! I now wish the first five gets a with list of selected items that they want. At the end of the day – it does not matter if you are the first in the queue. What matters is how you operate when you are inside with the 15 minutes allocated shopping time frame. And being tired is of no help either.
Will I do this again? Most definitely YES! Bring it on! But let me earn more “wang” first!