With a new heavy metal inspired collection high street retail brand H&M have blundered into the notoriously anti-mainstream subculture with the same benign incomprehension of a nun mistakenly wandering into a sex shop.
The collection featured the standard-issue dark palette of the tinnitus-stricken metal scene. Fake band tees and patch covered outerwear showcased a variety of off-brand imitations of metal acts. The range was clearly transparent attempt to cash in on the established credibility of a subculture’s style and inject a little edginess into their normally reserved high street clothing range.
Then something bizarre happened.
Songs attributed to the fake bands featured on H&M’s clothing began to surface. Harsh, guttural, foreboding sounding metal tracks with malignant growls and distorted guitars characteristic of the scandinavian black metal scene. The songs bear names like ‘Drink the Devil’s blood and then inhale cocaine’, and ‘Vaginal’s juce dripping into cadaverous’. The perfect summer anthems, if your summer consists of church burnings and wearing impractically spiky jewellery.
A record label called ‘Strong Scene Productions’ emerged, claiming that they were working in partnership with H&M. The label put out a press release claiming that they were, “pleasantly surprised when Swedish clothing industry giant HENNES & MAURITZ decided to honour legendary underground metal acts from their roster in H&M’s latest fashion collection.”
Strong Scene claimed that they had partnered up with H&M to promote classic underground bands from before the advent of internet publicity, from the old days of mixtape trading and cassette culture.
However, evidence came to light making it appear that Strong Scene’s bands weren’t as authentic as they claimed much of the promotional material plastered across the internet could only be traced back a few weeks…
Strong Scene came forward again, admitting that the whole debacle had been a hoax from the beginning.
In a Facebook post, they stated, ‘We are not a label, but a one- time improvised, collective art project in the vein of Spinal Tap, Monty Python and the Yes Men with no intentions on anything except for art.’
Henri Sorvali of Finnish Folk-Metal band, Finntroll spoke in an interview with Noisey, claiming that it the whole debacle was the work of some avid metal fans railing against the commodification of their sub-culture.
Sorvali claimed, ‘The purpose of the group (consisting of literally tens of people from different areas of music and media around Scandinavia) was to create discussion on the fact that metal culture is more than just “cool” looking logos on fashionable clothes, and has many more aesthetic and ideological aspects in different sub-genres than what some corporations are trying to express.’
H&M, in glibly plagiarising a zealous subculture invited a backlash. The fan-base reclaimed their look by producing some of the most extreme and off-putting music the scene is able to create and happily handing it over to H&M, and thus lend their collection some legitimacy.
Quite thoughtful, really.