After opening its first U.S. store in New York more than two years ago, the fast-fashion British retailer took its sweet time testing the waters, waiting until Thursday to unveil its second and largest U.S. flagship along Michigan Avenue here.
But this flashy, high-profile store is no second banana, said Sir Philip Green, the owner of Arcadia Group, parent company of Topshop and its men's sibling Topman.
"For us, this is a game changer," Green said of the 49,000-square-foot corner building with 35,000 square feet of selling space. "It moves the brand on. This is a presence on one of the best streets in the world. It's a statement."
Topshop definitely made its presence known Thursday, blocking off a side street to Michigan Avenue for an outdoor fashion show that attracted a collection of onlookers three people thick snapping pictures with their cell phones. Green then christened the Topshop/Topman store with Miley Cyrus in tow before a gaggle of photographers and hundreds of eager shoppers lining the street.
Some customers, like Meredith Lee, a 24-year-old graduate student, waited two hours to be one of the first to enter the store. "It's very exciting. I like the sparkles," she said, spying all the sequined clothes at the store's atrium entrance.
While Green said Topshop's New York store on Broadway in SoHo is more of a destination, there's no missing the Windy City Topshop/Topman flagship with its floor-to-ceiling glass-and-black-coated aluminum panel exterior and illuminated signs that pierce the city's Magnificent Mile, particularly at night. Not to mention that the store is positioned across the street from the popular Water Tower Place shopping center, which houses Macy's, and steps away from H&M, Giorgio Armani and Bottega Veneta.
Green, who is planning to meet this week with U.S. landlords, including one from Los Angeles, where he is close to signing a lease, said the Windy City store has become his new calling card.
"I want people to see what we've done," said Green, who knows there are those who have questioned Topshop's slow U.S. expansion, assuming weak sales in New York.
Business in New York is "OK," he said. "It's steady. I can't say it's our best location. It was a good place to start but we've got to be Uptown. We need to move on. This [the Chicago store] will be the catalyst."
Green has made no secret about his desire for a more prominent New York location, but he won't pay top dollar. "I don't need to," he said. "We want to be sensible."
Sensibility, however, is not the aesthetic Topshop is known for, as evidenced by one of its best sellers — $150 barely there denim short shorts embellished with crystals. After the New York store placed four reorders for the shorts, Topshop introduced a black pair full of bling for fall, which are displayed front-and-center in Chicago.
"People aren't coming here for T-shirts and jeans," Green said, though shoppers may purchase those items. "People are coming here to dress up."
Silver-and-black mannequins at the store's front doors articulate that flamboyancy, decked out in black leather trim leggings, platform leopard booties and sequined tops. Another form features a black stretch-lace pencil skirt, faux fur leopard coat and a zebra-print top with sequin detailing. Prices range from $36 for a T-shirt to $790 for a three-quarter-length black leather jacket.
In true Topshop form, the collection of clothing will constantly change, with the store receiving 150 new lines a week. Decor reflects the urban rock 'n' roll vibe of the retailer's fashions with gray slate floors, reclaimed wood shelving, brushed chrome clothing racks and neon signs. Highlights of the space include an open, airy, relaxing white- and lavender-colored, 800-square-foot personal shopping area and a sleek shoe salon complete with mirrored ceilings and mirrored shelving displaying suede platform pumps in violet, cobalt blue, teal, red, green and four different animal prints, all in front of a faint Union Jack backdrop.
Men's wear also takes center stage as Topman fills the store's second floor with slim-cut suiting, distinctive dress shoes and skinny denim and thin corduroy, tweed and leopard-print ties.
Compared with Topshop's New York opening, which boasted a week's worth of parties attracting handfuls of high-voltage celebrities and unparalleled hype, the Chicago unveiling seemed more subdued. Instead of hosting a barrage of events, Topshop activated its social media channels, creating an opening day countdown on its new Chicago Facebook page, which also tracked its Topshop truck as it traveled to college campuses distributing gift cards worth anywhere from $5 to $100. A day before the public opening, Topshop offered private VIP shopping for some 200 guests followed by a dinner at Paris Club and after party where Cyrus seemed to have the best time, dancing before her booth of friends.
Bruce Kaplan, who produces yearly studies of Michigan Avenue as senior vice president for CB Richard Ellis, said Topshop is part of a resurgence of retail along Michigan Avenue, where rents are rising back to 2001 levels. "It means a lot; it really does," Kaplan said of the opening. "Topshop, they're larger than life. It cements Michigan Avenue among the top two retail locations in North America."
The Windy City launch, representing an estimated $12 million investment, coincides with ongoing expansion for Topshop, which plans to open stores in Toronto in October and Australia in December. In 2012, the retailer looks to launch in Brazil in February and unveil its third U.S. store in Las Vegas in March. All Topshops outside the U.K. are franchised except for the U.S. stores.
Ideally, Green said he would like to have eight to 10 U.S. Topshops within the next two years. "We've been picky," he admitted, noting that the company has invested $1 billion to open new stores and refurbish existing ones over the last six years. "I'm not in a hurry. We don't want to make a mistake. Taking our time, it's the key."
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews