2018 was not a vintage year for fashion. The House of Fraser hit by the crisis and a let down Marks & Spencer made the headlines, as well as an increasing number of planned store closures and the corresponding job losses, deemed necessary in a New Look reversal plan. The Orla Kiely brand, famous for its geometric prints, went into liquidation in September, while Dolce & Gabbana ended the year under severe pressure after being dropped by major retailers after a racism scandal failed a fashion show scheduled in China.
But the biggest downfall that affects fashion culture is that of a store that is still very open to companies. The undoing of Philip Green, and by association Topshop, is a turning point for British high street fashion.
Influenced by multiple allegations of bullying and sexual harassment, Green was further humiliated by dropping Beyoncé as a business partner, who connected bonds between her Ivy Park athleisure brand and Topshop after the allegations. The launch event for Topshop & # 39; s keynote party clothing collection this season, a collaboration with the upcoming designer Michael Halpern, was canceled at the last minute. There will be no party celebrations this year celebrating Topshop's place in the center of the British fashion ecosystem, for the simple reason that it can no longer claim that position.
Topshop experienced problems for the claims around Green. Everywhere in the main street a declining trend started to emerge in 2018. Turnover in 2017 at Arcadia Group, the umbrella for smaller brands such as Dorothy Perkins and Burton and the flagships Topshop and Topman, had already fallen by £ 113 million or 5.6%, from the previous year.
This decade, young shoppers, who are Topshop's most important market, have evolved from bricks-and-mortar shopping, an area in which Topshop was dominant, to online, where it faced intense competition from new and agile social media. savvy, price-competitive brands such as Boohoo and Missguided. Moreover, in 2016 the BHS pension scandal had restricted the personal fortune of Green and his wife, Tina, and forced him to step back from the spotlight.
The Topshop catwalk shows on which Green would place itself centrally, once a half-yearly view of the London fashion week, are at the mercy of history. In his splendor Green gave himself the prime paparazzi spot every season: next to Kendall Jenner in February 2014, Cara Delevingne in February 2015, Anna Wintour in September 2015, and Kate Moss in September 2017.
In 2018, however, there were no Topshop catwalk shows at the fashion week in London. The program of sponsoring catwalks for emerging designers, together with the sumptuous champagne-soaked hospitality that became a symbol of Green's status, was pinned down at the beginning of this year.
Although there have been few tears for Green, the demise of Topshop illustrates a new change in fashion: the end of a golden age of the main street. From the beginning of 00 to the beginning of this decade, Topshop was the poster child of a fashion culture in which glamor and novelty were democratized and made available for the first time to shoppers with a mass budget. Catwalk images have so far been a well-kept secret in the months that clothes shown on the fashion week went into production, which meant that street shopkeepers worked for six months, unable to work on high street versions of the " new look "Until the designer clothing was on sale.
The internet has changed all that. Images were immediately available, allowing smart high street teams to interpret the trends and deliver them to their customers just as quickly as Bond Street. Topshop – thanks to a talented and largely female team led by Jane Shepherdson – this opportunity is better than anyone else and delivers up to the minute, well-priced fashion.
The heavily facilitated photos in the first row of Green represent more than just the roar of his unbridled ego. Having Vogue cover girls attending a Topshop fashion show reflected a time when the class system of fashion seemed to have melted away.
It did not have to last. The latest hemlines, as promulgated by the chicest designers in Paris or the color-dominating catwalks in Milan, had once been exciting plot twists that held fashion customers. Now that all the secrets of fashion were in the open, these plot twists – also known as trends – lost their power over the shopping behavior of women.
Topshop's cachet was based on the fact that it came closest to a fashion chain that was available on the street. But by making it accessible to everyone, Topshop helped devalue the currency of biennial trends and ebbing away the public to find excitement elsewhere – in street style, streetwear or Instagram, in a new generation of social media-focused brands.
At the same time, an increasing awareness of the conditions in which workers produce fast fashion and the environmental impact of disposable styles caused the glare of fashion as a playground to be dimmed for everyone. The current crisis has been triggered by a man that few people love, but in his splendor, Topshop was a store that millions of women loved.