Are the wheels coming off at Topman? From zero to hero, Topman is the poster boy of how brands, thanks to fashion and the sponsorship of fashion weeks, can go from uncool to cool in little over a decade, but, has their run of dominance on the men’s high-street come to an end?
Topman recently had a clear out of the top brass and creative. Gordon Richardson, who served as Topman's head designer for the past 17 years, has been pushed out along with many others within the Arcadia group. This is usually a sign of trying to stop the rot and starting something new.
Left - Will you be buying your tracksuit from Topman this season?
Taveta Investments, Arcadia’s parent company, doesn't break out individual figures for their brands, but financial figures released in June 2017 showed a 16 per cent drop in profits for the year to August 2016. Taveta Investments, indicated that annual profits plummeted to £211 million, while sales dropped 2.5 per cent to just over £2 billion. Taveta Investments, derived £1.7bn of revenue from the UK in 2016. That marked a fall from £2.2bn a year earlier, although up to £370m of that related to discontinued operations such as BHS, which was sold in 2015.
That’s a huge drop of £500 million or £130 million, if you take out BHS. That’s still a lot of clothes not sold.
So, what do we think has happened at Topman? Is it a case of these runs can’t go on forever and or is it something more serious?
One things for certain, it’s much more competitive than when Topman started out on its journey. Whether selling fashion or basics, there is much more choice, both offline and online.
Did they over expand? We know that Australia has struggled, with their franchise partner going into receivership recently, and the big push into America hasn’t really stuck as they don't seem to understand how fashionable us Brits are. American teens, in many cities, have nowhere to wear this kind of stuff.
Right - Has Topman peaked and how can they get their spark back?
Did it get too expensive? With labels like ‘Topman Design’ pushing the upper price points there is a perception that Topman was expensive, especially when compared to other high-street retailers. I’ve spoken to mums of teenage boys who say they leave Topman until last on a shopping trip as it’s usually the more expensive.
Topman’s buyers never committed to ‘Topman Design’. We had the shows, we had the collections, but when it hit the stores or online it was very bitty. They’d only make the trousers of a suit, for example, or items that didn’t really go with each other and the pricing was into three figures.
I think Topman has fallen into that gap of not being fashionable enough and not being cheap enough on basics and is falling into the void in the middle. They’ve lost the energy to ASOS, Boohoo and New Look.
I think there was a case of Topman believing their own hype too. You can’t afford to be arrogant in fashion and thinking you’re the coolest kid on the block, because things move fast and this will quickly bite you on the arse. The campaigns were a little too editorial and not relatable enough.
Fashions have changed too. Topman practically owned the skinny, three-piece suit and was selling volumes of a more expensive product. Now, the kids want sportswear and retro looking basics. It’s not the go-to place anymore. It’s lost its USP.
What are they doing? They’ve hired David Hagglund, known within fashion circles for founding a Stockholm-based creative agency which includes H&M and Hugo Boss as clients. He was also art director at Vogue Paris. David Hagglund is replacing Ms Phelan - Topshop head creative - and Mr Richardson in a 'newly created position' of creative director across both Topman and Topshop. Is combining Topman and Topshop a good idea? Or is this further cost cutting? It’s interesting they’ve given this important job to an Art Director type and it’ll be interesting to see whether Topman will get as much focus as Topshop. I doubt it.
The danger is, as they wobble they go safer, which is the wrong direction. Admittedly, Australia is having problems and America isn’t as fashionable as Europe, but young men want fashion and know it. Brands like ASOS and Boohoo are really pushing it, New Look has got a hell of a lot better and newness is the drug on the high-street.
Topman Design became a bit formulaic and they need to commit to it or scrap it. I think they’re going to find it hard to get that spark back. It’s very hard to do when you’ve lost it, but they’ve done it once before, so why not again.
There’s the juxtaposition between men’s basic and fashion led clothing. Basics are so competitive and difficult to make money from unless you’re doing huge volumes and buying basics from Topman is, well, a bit basic. Maybe they should leave that to Primark and Uniqlo and stick to making fashion.
I think they need to think more inclusive and not try to be too cool without losing the trends. Look what happened to American Apparel when they tried that achingly cool model. You need to be the coolest of the mainstream and, especially in Britain, have fun with it.
I think what we’ll see is, as leases run out, stores will close and they’ll be a renewed focus and growth of online. Topman needs to tighten up its collection and re-educate guys about what they do. As fashion cycles move, they need to aim for a new USP and focus on that. You can't be all things to all people today.
Note - A friend just mentioned on Facebook about the 'Philip Green Effect' and people boycotting his brands due to his handling of the sale of BHS and the hole in the pension fund. This could definitely be having an effect on Topman as many people are aware that he is the owner.
Big Coloured Bags
If you're a man carry man-sized stuff around, you need a man-sized bag, obvs. Matching it with your hair is up to you.
From Far Left - Tourne de Transmission, Berthold
LOVE & PEACE
Who was it that once sang, ‘All you need is love’? Well, whomever it was, London needs a bit of a cuddle right now.
Below - Oliver Spencer, Bodybound
Just as orange has become a menswear staple colour, it's now time for primary yellow.
From Far Left - Kiko Kostadinov, Berthold
Androgynous ‘Non Binary’ Club Kids
Men’s and women’s fashion collections are merging so they may as well make it all androgynous, unisex and non-binary. They’ll save a fortune!
Anything goes? Yep! Read more here
From Far Left - Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Art School
Alf Garnett becomes the style icon for SS18.
From Below Left - Per Götesson, Nicholas Daley, Bodybound, Katie Eary
Networking, fashionably so.
Far Left - Miharayasuhiro, Blood Brother
Selvedge tape continues to proclaim you allegiance.
Below - Bobby Abley, Christopher Raeburn
Striped Rowing Jackets
From Below Left - Topman Design, Songzio, Hackett, Kent & Curwen, Kent & Curwen
Border control. Who needs the eye scanner when you can wear this?
Left - Bobby Abley
The first rule of fashion week - always end your show on a high.
Below - Bobby Abley, Liam Hodges
Fashion gets streamlined. Bike optional.
From Far Left - Martine Rose, Daniel W Fletcher, Wan Hung
Fashion loves a few pointless dangly bits.
From Below - Tourne de Transmission, D.GNAK
Who knew big zips could be so slimming?
Both - Miharayasuhiro
We’re on the eve of London Fashion Week Men’s and, while celebrating its 5th year, the biannual event is having to deal with the changing menswear landscape. Brands are cutting expenditure, many are merging men’s with women’s, budgets are under pressure and London Fashion Week needs to be justified more than ever.
Left - The new face of Topman AW17, Lennon Gallagher giving good brows
The closed, industry facing idea of fashion weeks is over and it’s all about photo opportunities and customer facing events. It’s about promotion, harnessing the buzz and trying to get some direct return on the costly investment.
Perfectly illustrating this is Topman Design. One of the originals on the London men’s schedule and the first to really elevate high-street to a catwalk proposition, Topman Design has decided to shelve the show and instead have a presentation for its new SS18 collection that will be thrown open to the general public over the weekend. Arcadia, the parent of Topman, has seen sales falling and this puts pressure on making these type of events perform.
A ‘multi-media event’ called ‘Transition’, the Topman Design installation is curated by a series of collaborators.. Each collaborator will ‘own’ a space and create an installation showcasing their interpretation of this attitude with each room having a completely different and fresh perspective to create a unique journey through the space.
The event takes place at the Old Truman Brewery and open to the public on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June between 10am and 6pm. To gain access to the event simply download the DICE app on the App Store and Google Play or at DICE.fm.
Collaborators featured include photographer and filmmaker Nick Offord, musicians ‘The Rhythm Method’, poet and writer Max Wallis, architect and filmmaker Ben Cullen Williams and photographer and creative director Campbell Addy who will be working alongside illustrator King Owusu. In addition the space housing the installation will be designed by young British architect Benni Allan of estudio b.
The space will also feature a pop-up shop selling exclusive apparel featuring prints and graphics taken from and inspired by the Topman Design archive as well as exclusive pieces from the collaborators exhibiting.
Opening the fashion week up to the city makes it an event and creates the momentum that continues to keep these things going. We need to see more of this and not simply 'See Now, Buy Now'. I was thinking when they pedestrianise Oxford Street, it could become the location for fashion week. Clear marquees could hold shows and outside screens could showcase collections to the general public increasing interest and firmly keeping British fashion as the centre of creativity and the city.
Increasing the public's interest in fashion and fashion week and taking it out of its bubble should be the main objective this LFWM.
Where was everybody? That could have been the final statement when it came to London’s latest round of men’s shows and presentations. Having dropped from 77 to 57, the number of brands showing was a reflection in the current oversupply of fashion brands and collections. LCM felt a little vacant and, unfortunately, what was left didn’t exactly set the menswear world on fire.
Here are a few trends TheChicGeek spied to take us into the new year:
It's 40 years since punk first burst on to the British streetwear scene and to celebrate designers have been getting creative with a bottle of Domestos.
From Left - Casely-Hayford, Mihara Yasuhiro (See how to make your own pair of bleachers - here)
Tracey Emin rang, she wants her spare bed back! Could it be a comment on generation rent and the nomad status of today’s young and creative generation or maybe it was simply the lazy option. Expect to see 'Dreams' as the headline sponsor of the next LCM or London Fashion Week Men’s as it is now called.
From Left - Per Götesson, Edward Crutchley
Nothing says 'playful' like Terry towelling. And while a playsuit maybe taking things too far, if you've got the legs...
From Left - Sibling, Topman Design
Flag To The Mast
Tie your sartorial flag to the mast and dress like a walking United Nations.
Both Craig Green
Colouring in is so 2015! Get that Sharpie out and start to doodle to your heart's content.
Below - Coach
Zips go man-sized, this season, and take centre stage.
From Left - Mihara Yasuhiro, JW Anderson, Mihara Yasuhiro
Large lapels yet streamlined shapes make this a contemporary seventies revival.
Fashion tribes take inspiration from ethnic jewellery and the play with masculinity and decoration.
Left - Casely-Hayford, Wales Bonner, Charles Jeffrey
The colour combo of the season. Bubblegum to fuchsia, lime to forest, these two colours work in every combination.
Both JW Anderson (See more from this trend in Milan)
The first day of LCM, London's men's fashion week, started. At the end of a long day TheChicGeek's thoughts about the menswear business at the moment and how we need to move away from 'Instagram' fashion and get back to the fundamentals of design.
From the frow to standing at the back! TheChicGeek was all over the recent menswear shows at London Collections: Men. Here are the trends that caught his eye:
Copper - That highlight orange has become slightly dirtier and more grown up.
From Far Left - Craig Green, Katie Eary, Hopman Design, Oliver Spencer
Grunge - Nobody’s ever made money from selling grunge, it’s kind of the point, no?
From Far Left - Topman Design, Burberry, J.W. Anderson
Neck Scarves - Double knot it for accessory impact.
Both Margaret Howell
Soft 70s Teddy Bear Hair - Layers, Bowl Cut, or simply ask for an 'Abigail's Party' next time you're at the barbers.
Below From Left - Lou Dalton, Burberry
Cropped Mid-Driff - Not since Mark Owen in the Relight My Fire Video have I been this excited about the male midriff. AW16's new, chilly erogenous zone!
From Far Left - Agi & Sam, Astrid Andersen
Inside Out Sheepskins - You could just turn last year's inside out, but it probably won't look as good!
From Far Left - Coach, James Long, 1205
Sequins - These were dress-down sequins on sportswear and simple tops.
Burberry, James Long
Silk - Menswear bedroom eyes with luxurious plain or printed silks in bedroom shapes.
Below - Katie Eary, Topman Design
Get your motor running! Channelling a little bit of James Hunt by way of the Bay City Rollers, TheChicGeek gets a large dose of 70s in this look from Topman Design's AW15 collection.
The jumpsuit is a major trend for this season. Add the badges and the bright colour and it becomes glam-rock fantastical. Hold on tight!
Credits - All Topman Design AW15
Left - Topman Design Catwalk at LCM
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
The home of TheChicGeek and menswear, London was a four day spectacular of the creative East London meeting the more refined West. Here is TheChicGeek’s scrapbook of men's trends for #SS16:
Designers have realised that we no longer want to be handicapped by our manbags while we still have the issue of having many additional things to carry. So, why not make a feature of your bulging pockets?
From Left - Lou Dalton, Hardy Amies
Men have become so brave, today, with colour that neon is no longer the scary super tone it used to be. More of an accent, think of it like your wardrobe highlighter.
From Left - Hardy Amies, Topman Design
Horizontal, vertical, anyway you like. It may look a little 'Inmate Chic', but, hey, it's all about the swagger.
From Left - Topman Design, Agi & Sam
The luxury item of SS16. This season, suede is a hybrid between a shirt and a jacket. Just make sure it's in the softest, butteriest suede in an earthy reddy brown tone.
From Left - Oliver Spencer, Gieves & Hawkes
Male lace or 'Mace' can be as dangerous as it sounds. It's probably best layered with glimpses, rather than full on out there, unless you're as a skinny as a Burberry model.
Left - Both Burberry Prorsum
Yabba dabba doo or don't depending on how you feel about animal prints. These should look like fun animals: the kind you'd win at the fair!
From Left - Coach, Burberry Prorsum
I always feel Winston Churchill's boiler suit inspires these kind of bomber/Harrington type suits. The new dress down dress up for those wanting to look put together while looking young, sporty and contemporary.
From Left - Dunhill, Topman Design
Peter Pan, Princess or plain old PJ, the shirt colour is light, relaxed and open for the forthcoming SS16 season.
From Left - Alexander McQueen, Hardy Amies
With thanks to Smart ForFour