Following the invasion of Ukraine, H&M, like other foreign brands had withdrawn from the Russian market. However, the fast fashion giant is temporarily reopening for a final sale. As expected, a shopping frenzy began with unending queues outside H&M stores in Moscow shopping centers. So intense is the crazy for the Swedish fashion retailer that people are willing to wait in line for five to six hours and gladly spend an additional three hours at the checkout. “Well, it is closing; that’s why we are standing here,” one customer, Irina, told Reuters. “I’m going to buy whatever there is.” Another shopper, Ekaterina, said: “Sadly, the reason why all this is happening is awful. Everything else is meaningless, like how we are going to manage [without H&M].”
Taking advantage of this, enterprising Russians have started selling their seats in lines at the store entrance. The same was posted on the Avito platform for 500 rubles. “I will sell a place at the beginning of the line at H&M in the Aviapark shopping center. Saving several hours. Quick entry to the store,” read the description. If you think this is crazy, then wealthy Russians were resorting to even more outlandish yet novel solutions so luxury brands could sidestep sanctions and help them get their favorite haute couture to Russia. These loopholes included cutting buttons of clothes to removing belts from handbags.
Since the onset of the Ukraine-Russia war, a majority of the worlds leading luxury brands have suspended their operations in Russia, such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and Rolls Royce. Chief executive, Helena Helmersson, said last month, “ After careful consideration, we see it as impossible, given the current situation, to continue our business in Russia. We are deeply saddened about the impact this will have on our colleagues,” referring to the retailer’s 6,000 staff in Russia.