Shoppers queue outside an H&M store for the launch of Maison Martin Margiela's special collection / EPA


If you’re a canny shopper, you’re probably beating the crowds even as I type, snapping up this year’s Tickle-Me Elmo doll.

If you’re a crap shopper – like me – you’re probably beating yourself up about the fact you didn’t get out of bed early enough to get to the front of the queue for the Maison Martin Margiela collaboration with H&M.

I always underestimate the public’s ability to obsess over clothes as much as I do. I assume it’s just one of my own little foibles, and one that makes me a bit stupid. But when I turned the corner at 9.55am the morning of the Marni launch last year, I was stunned at the mob outside the store. Same with last week’s Margiela offering.

H&M collects queues that would put Ryanair to shame. I defy anyone walking past not to join it simply out of peer pressure and herd mentality. No doubt some of you sartorially minded early risers made it there in time, camping outside until the doors opened. The great irony here of course is that the collection itself contains just the sleeping-bag-cum-duvet-coat you’d need to do that comfortably.

For an industry that never likes to be kept waiting a minute longer than is necessary, fashion is surprisingly fond of a queue. From the snaking strands of people that gather inexplicably outside Next on Boxing Day at 5am to buy slogan tees and tat, to the rather more intangible waiting lists for an Hermès Birkin or a Fendi Baguette – even for the new season shade of nail varnish by Chanel.

Queues provide a handy delineation of status: you have to wait in line? You’re a nobody. You skip straight to the front? Congratulations, you’re either Anna Wintour or a blogger with no shame and (probably) very few readers.

Fashion is obsessed with hierarchy – as was Margiela in his own way, and the  subversion of such bourgeois codes.  That’s what the H&M collection is about too: breaking down the usual layers of pomp and wealth, making high fashion a high-street reality for everyone.

Everyone who can get up in time, that is.