Topshop’s a democratic brand.
ADDRESS Women’s Street, ground floor, Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A
AREA 3,200 sq ft
DESIGN In-house (Arcadia)
It’s within the reach of most trend-conscious shoppers and, despite its cutting-edge reputation, is a broad church as far as the types of shopper it attracts. It is found on high streets, in varying forms, across the land.
As such, the words ‘Topshop’ and ‘premium’ might seem unusual bedfellows, but the fact the brand sits very comfortably as part of Selfridges’ young fashion offer indicates the direction of travel. Topshop is now an aspirational young fashion brand and this month’s opening of a shop-in-shop area at Selfridges that could be seen as better end, in terms of fit-out at least, shows that while the label may be high street, the thrust is towards boutique.
It’s worth noting that Topshop is a premium young fashion brand overseas, particularly in the US. Given the tourist horde that invades Selfridges daily, it makes sense to elevate the brand’s environment in this location.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Topshop’s visual merchandising has an almost military precision these days and the Selfridges shop-in-shop is no exception. In part, this is dictated by the decision to create mannequin armies.
In Selfridges, three mannequins on individual plinths in a line at the entrance to the department give the space a real identity. On the matter of the garments themselves, as this is a shop where the shopfront is the area facing the mid-shop walkway, there is a wide variety of styles on view, with the majority being front-facing. The department’s long, curving perimeter wall at the back is used to advantage with almost all items presented forward facing – drawing the eye through the whole of the space.
02 - CONCEPT
Topshop at Selfridges is a little over 3,200 sq ft and is long and narrow, so much of the offer is alongside the walkway leading to the Duke Street door. Shoppers can see straight through to the gently curved perimeter wall made of white Carrera marble with grey flecks. The marble indicates that you have entered a premium environment. Couple this with a spattering of video screens on the high mid-shop equipment and you have a diverting in-store panorama.
03 - SERVICE
Pleasant and eager to help, the two members of staff fielded all questions about the new-look Topshop with ease. They could, perhaps, have been slightly better briefed about the nature of the exclusive lines destined for this store, but this was more than made up for by the enthusiasm with which they disappeared (and reappeared!) to find an answer. They were also helping shoppers, rather than desperately trying to fill up the display equipment. This is a self-selection proposition, but help was at hand if required.
04 - PRODUCT
Leather, sequins and studs might sum up a lot of what is on view. Prices are reassuringly inexpensive, particularly when the Selfridges backdrop is considered. Only one small point: the supposed premium nature of the offer is not wholly evident – at first glance this could be a Topshop pretty much anywhere. Nothing wrong with this, perhaps, but the ‘exclusives’, aka handbags with animal prints and studs, appear to be the kind of thing that is generally available in similar forms elsewhere.
All of which notwithstanding, this is a real fashion offer and it had plenty of customers. Styles exclusive to this store will arrive in February or March next year, according to a member of staff.
05 - COMPETITION
It is quite easy to assess this shop-in-shop’s ability to deal with rivals, owing to many of them being in very close proximity within the Selfridges ‘Women’s Street’ space. With names such as American Apparel, All Saints, Karen Millen and Paul’s Boutique all just a few paces away, Topshop can deal with all comers and on the day of visiting it seemed to be beating them at their game. More broadly, the obvious competition has to be Topshop’s Oxford Circus flagship – and the multi-floor fashion leviathan still beats this one hands down. Another Topshop, at Marble Arch, is imminent.
06 - VERDICT- Will do well and get better
You expect more when you head into Selfridges and as far as the Topshop environment in this store is concerned, this is delivered. However, some of the more basic merchandise around the perimeter does not entirely live up to the promise provided by the shopfit – some of it is really quite basic. Prices are good. Whenthis Topshop offers a few more designer collaborations – there was a good showing from the debut collection by JW Anderson for Topshop – then this really will serve as a destination for visitors to the store.