Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
“Everything you just saw was the direction we are taking for spring,” Gordon Richardson, the creative and design director for Topman, told me immediately after the finale of Wednesday's show, inside the glass dome of the Royal Opera House near Covent Garden. It was dominated by knitwear and '70s floral shirts, tucked into high-waisted boxing shorts with contrast stitching hiking boots.
Taking inspiration from youths in Brighton--a town on the southern coast of England known for its pop music venues, vintage record stores and clothing shops--the collection mixed techno fabrics. Consider a shiny charcoal single-breasted suit with a cotton floral shirt from the hippie era, or a dark cotton suit with slim trousers and the au courant cotton military print shirt. One of the most appealing looks from the show, from a customer's point of view, was the shiny light purple trench. It was shown with matching trousers in a deep purple cotton. I also liked the black cotton shirt printed with large red psychedelic flowers and paired with black cotton belted flared shorts.
Although many of the knit pieces, like the red cotton sweater featuring the fox motif, will undoubtedly be bestsellers, I'm not certain about the ivory high-waisted boxer shorts with a tan leather belt and burgundy/mustard polo. It may be a hard sell beyond the limited range of fashion devotees. I’m sure a more commercial mutation will be found among the racks at the Broadway store.
Asked whether what’s in the show will be sold at Topman stores come spring time, Mr. Richardson insisted that everything shown will be ordered and sold. "Topman Design is available online at topman.com, the New York and London Oxford Circus flagships stores as well as select La Foret department store in Tokyo and Shine in Hong Kong.”
I have always resisted the idea of any high street brand pursuing the route of staging a fashion show, which should be primarily for designers to show their new work. But as fashion has expanded far beyond the limited world of the "designer collections," it would be silly to restrict how new ideas are communicated to this wider audience. A fashion idea can also be about merchandising, and not necessarily high concepts of designs to be digested by critics. In skirting the traditional route of media presentations, Topman is communicating directly with customers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
As is now standard, the show was broadcast live online and in the windows of the Oxford Circus store. “We have [already] purchased seven items from the show--the sweater with the fox image, the metallic suit with slim pants, the parka jacket with pockets--and customers can purchase them online starting now,” Mr. Richardson said. In the age of instant accessibility and immediate availability, Topman has upped the ante allowing customers to purchase its affordable merchandises without delay. See Now, Buy Now may not yet be fashion’s newest lingo, but I suspect in the next season many fashion houses will follow suit.