Coachella 2015: H&M Pops New Tent of Virtual Reality, 360-Degree Professional Selfies (Exclusive)

From an interactive spandex membrane that plays music to Oculus Rift and a pop-up shop — the first Coachella-branded clothing line is coming right on to the festival grounds and you don’t need to be on the list

The first party news related to the festival comes from H&M, an official sponsor, pivoting towards a consumer-facing onsite activation and co-branded official clothing line with the festival. (Getty Images/Composite by Mikey Glazer)

In the wristband arms race over proximity, Hollywood guests and exclusivity for 2015’s Coachella, the first social scene shot has been fired. But it’s not shot, it’s a wave.

As in, “Hey you, 90,000 festival goers, come on in.”

TheWrap has learned that Coachella and H&M are expanding their six year relationship, with the brand making a big play for a consumer-facing, on-site activation. It is their primary initiative at the festival, a swerve from their celebrity-soaked, heavily produced private experiences of recent years.

Iggy Azalea, Alexander Wang, Fergie, and Kate Bosworth at last year's  H&M surprise party. (Getty Images)
Iggy Azalea, Alexander Wang, Fergie, and Kate Bosworth at last year’s H&M surprise party. (Getty Images)

They are not  just providing the actual festival t-shirts and merchandise in their own tent at the festival (the largest on site, “they believe”), though they are doing some of that too.

For those not in to Steeley Dan, there will be Oculus Rift Virtual Reality, a 360 degree mirrored selfie station with professional lighting and visual effects, and other immersive digital experiences in their 40’ x 80’ tent that will stay open for both weekends on the festival grounds. But all of that is window dressing on their core business – putting threads on people.

Moving the party back "on-campus", where Kid Cudi got in to it with 90,000 sweaties last year. (Getty images)
Moving the party back “on-campus”, where Kid Cudi got in to it with 90,000 sweaties last year. (Getty images)

Today they launch the first co-branded collection with the definitive California music festival, “H&M Loves Coachella”.  It goes on sale in 350 stores, three weeks before AC/DC, Nero, Alesso, Azealia Banks, and Raekwon and Ghostface Killah take the stage on opening day. Pre-festival wardrobe crises can be also be extinguished at their site online.

(Above: A version of Aaron Sherwood’s spandex membrane musical instrument will be on site.)

The 68-year-old Swedish brand has not been shy about shuffling their own deck each year, even with accolades (sometimes from right here) for producing quality, tasteful, and curated events that have been a sanctuary from the proverbial noise.

“We always like to surprise people and try something new,” Marybeth Schmitt, H&M’s Head of Communications for North America told TheWrap of the shift in strategy.

Santigold at the Merv Griffin Estate in 2013.
Santigold at the Merv Griffin Estate in 2013.

This is a pivot.

Instead of repeating a daytime resort at the sprawling Merv Griffin Estate where Santigold performed over a lake in 2013, they shifted to a surprise party (for the guests) to announce their collaboration with Alexander Wang last April.

On that Saturday night a year ago, then relatively unknown Iggy Azalea made an unannounced appearance before Diplo and his Major Lazer outfit played the tiny Indio Performing Arts community center for only a few hundred guests like Katy Perry and Robert Pattinson.

A few very lucky social media fans will win all-inclusive trips. (Getty Images)
A few very lucky social media fans will win all-inclusive trips…to get in here. (Getty Images)

The massive music festival in the desert valley falls at the inception of the youth consumer summer retail spending season, a fancy way of saying “people are about to buy lots of summer clothes.”

Shot on location: The co-branded collection tops out at $49.95.
Shot on location? The co-branded collection tops out at $49.95.

Planted in the idyllic valley amongst the mountains with thousands of prototypical, and likely stereotypical, California lifestyle fashion statements to be shared socially, several apparel brands have invested around the music festival in any way they can in recent years, even though H&M has been the only official fashion sponsor technically allowed to do this.  The modeling shots for the “H&M Loves Coachella” (above) tap in to this vein.

“(We) are a democratic brand offering fashion and an experience for all,” Schmitt told TheWrap. The “all” includes not just Americans or those in Indio, as they also invest in the Roskilde festival in Denmark and the grandaddy Glastonbury in England.

Back here in the desert, the co-branded clothing collaboration is a one year deal.

There is hedge in their marketing calculus.

They will tuck away with it-girls Haim for a happy hour cocktail party at the Parker on the opening Friday, still providing an exclusive non-consumer platform during the key opening weekend.

They do know their audiences – both industry, celebrity and general public consumers – well.

After all festival tickets sold out last May, and again this past January, with most never even able to make it out of the online “waiting room” to purchase, the brand is now giving away all-inclusive weekend trips to the festival throughout March over their social media channels.

Are you producing an event near Indio next month? Please contact me with your details, bookings, and invites via an email to Mikey Glazer here.