Let's go back to 1993. Pearl Jam sets up a concert on the manicured lawn of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. in protest of Ticketmaster and the California venues it controlled. When the concert becomes a major success, Paul Tollett, the man who helped Pearl Jam score the venue in '93, decides to return to Indio to start a music festival—a.k.a. Coachella.
With the catastrophe that was Woodstock '99 in full public consciousness, it's not surprising that Coachella took the mantle of “the anti-Woodstock” when it hosted its first, (then) two-day festival in 1999. While it was never going to be as turbo (see: dangerous) as Woodstock was, it made a major move to break the mold by booking acts based on their musical talent, as opposed to sheer radio popularity. Add in the fact that artists like Beck, Rage Against the Machine, and Tool were asked to accept deferred payment plans, and the festival was truly a D.I.Y. event for the best musicians and the fans who recognized their talent.
The music was off the beaten path, and so were the people who attended. Naturally this allowed for subcultures, be it metal, punk, or early-'00s hippies, to bring their style into the festival scene. Today when you head to Coachella's website, you're just as aware of the brand sponsors as you are of the acts themselves. They cosign the “counterculture cool” that things like Coachella inherently have, but this only makes the original brand (in this case, the festival) look like even more of a sellout.
H&M's sponsorship proves that mainline fashion brands also realize the potential market of music festival goers. With the release of “H&M Loves Coachella”, we've finally reached a point where the very base of modern fashion, the almost disposable and generic fast-fashion realm, is beginning to cater to the festival crowd. Considering that original festival goers were attending in protest of the norm, the fact that Coachella has now inspired a global apparel giant to produce clothes that thrive less off that uniqueness and more off being cheap and easy to wear—well, nothing could be further from the original style of Coachella and its fans. It's the Urban Outfitters-ization of clothing, and let's be honest, it's just not special anymore.