Saturday, 10 March 2012

Flopshop to Topshop

As Topshop explain on their website 'you know Topshop as the style setter and star of your wardrobe', because the brand has had a pretty important impact on the high street. However, although it is hard to believe in our present, the shop did not always have so much success.

Topshop is part of the Arcadia Group. This was founded in the 1900's by a Lithuanian man named Montague Burton. He created the Peter Robinson chain and this would be the beginning of Topshop. In the mid 60s as a reaction to the rising awareness of fashion within young women, Peter Robinson launched Topshop. First it was positioned inside stores as a concession but by 1974 the first Topshop store was launched, and shortly after Topman was created in 1978. Unfortunately the store was seen more as a 'tacky teen store', as Cat Callender explains in a article for The Telegraph and many dubbed the shop 'Flopshop'.

It was not till the late 1990s that Topshop began to get noticed as a high street store with credibility. Many believe this to be because of Jane Shepherdson, as she took on the brand and designed some truly beautiful clothes. Since her departure in 2006, the shop has continued to flourish and now there are over 300 stores in the United Kingdom alone and more than 100 internationally. Since Topshop's relaunch on Oxford Street in 1998, the brand has developed their image to such a level that trends do not emerge seasonally but weekly. They analyse designs on the catwalk and translate them to the high street, producing over 7,000 lines every season.

Although, debatably, the reason that Topshop has grown to such a level is their keen interest in emerging design talent. In 2002, they decided to join forces with NEWGEN, an organisation which triumphed up and coming fashion designers. This choice by Topshop would prove invaluable as it continually means the brand is in the press. It was also announced recently by Philip Green, owner of Topshop and the Arcadia Group, that after ten years with the group he would happily indulge in another decade. Great news for every fashion addict! A video has also been released celebrating the many designers who have been involved in this collaboration.

Another outstanding achievement from Topshop is their Unique label. This was first introduced in 2001 and was a big step in bridging the gap between high street and the catwalk. As Hilary Alexander discusses in an article published in 2005, 'it has made retail history..turns over the traditional fashion hierarchy'.

Overall, Topshop has turned into a fantastic fashion franchise. It continues to develop, and produces such exciting reasons to be involved in the industry that the high street could never say goodbye to it now. The future looks equally as engaging as Philip Green has announced plans to work with the British Fashion Council and the government to ensure that Britain as a manufacture can grow. He wants to put the same effort in production talent as he does with design. They have also revealed more interesting ways to shop as they have introduced technology into shopping. In Moscow they have virtual fitting rooms, which can be seen below...!

With the present and future looking so bright for Topshop I think the timeline I have created below will continue for many, many more years. All hail the queen of the high street!

1956: Peter Robinson chain introduced.

1964: Topshop is founded

1974: The first standalone store is created

1978: Topman joins the brand

1990: the mainstream dub the shop 'Flopshop'

1994: Moved onto Oxford Street

1998: Relaunch of Topshop begins, and they start 'Designers for Topshop'

1999: Begin interest for new talent in fashion

2000: Topshop online is launched

2001: Unique collection begins

2002: Announce their collobaration with NEWGEN

2003: Sponsor Fashion East

2004: The first Maternity line is created

2005: Critical aclaim for Unique is given

2006: Jane Shepherdson quits after 20 years and Topshop goes global

2007: Kate Moss releases her first collection

2008: Hit profitability when other high street stores struggled

2009: First US store is opened in Soho, NYC

2010: Many protest outside Topshop stores in Tax row

2011: Topshop is named 'Best New Store' in Chicago Time Out

2012: Las Vegas store is opened and another decade of NEWGEN is announced!

Which shop would you love to hear about next? Comment below and I will create a timeline for it!

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