NEW YORK — Topshop has a clear strategy for its upcoming assault on the U.S. market — transplant the high-octane, trendy experience of its London flagship.
Those same spunky harlequin dresses, tuxedo jackets and sequined hot pants that play well in the U.K. are coming to Broadway in mid-October with a 40,000-square-foot store composed of four selling floors; glossy shelving; futuristic lighting tubes and a DJ booth, both suspended from the ceiling; an "army" of mannequins; a shoe lounge; 32 changing rooms, and a VIP suite for the expected celebrity clientele.
For a moderate-to-better-priced store, the service, executives contend, will rival that of a luxury retailer, with personal shoppers, or "stylists," for women for the Topshop line, and "style advisers" for men for the company's Topman brand. The Topshop to Go at-home shopping service and Express for home delivery will also be offered. As for pricing, that will adhere to the London strategy — no price promotions.
The new store will be at 478 Broadway.
"This is going to be Topshop in all its glory, identical. It's not going to be Americanized. It will be London transferred to New York," said Sir Philip Green, the retailer's owner, during an interview at Industria, the West Village showroom space where many items from the vast collection are on display.
Green arrived in town this week for some advance publicity, and to prowl for other Manhattan sites. On his radar — 34th Street, and Fifth Avenue and Lexington Avenue in the Fifties. He said he's not close to securing a second site, but things could change during this visit. "I've got 10 sites to look at in three days. If the right deal comes up, I would do it," Green said. "If I find three, I will open three."
But nothing other than the SoHo opening is imminent, he added.
As far as bringing Topshop to America's malls, "There is no way we are going that route." He prefers street-level locations, at the right rent.
Green also prefers sticking to full-price. He acknowledged Americans are used to shopping for fashion that's deeply discounted and that retailers are notorious price promoters. "Everybody is fighting on price. That's not our business."
Is he worried about the timing of Topshop's U.S. debut, with the economy not likely to recover? For the near-term, maybe, but he's in it for the long term. "The U.S. economy and the U.K. economy are similar. They both have a lot of issues. But if you got something special giving people a reason to shop, you will do business," said Green, who is one of Britain's richest men with a net worth estimated at more than $6 billion and retail holdings that include department store BHS, Miss Selfridge and other fashion chains.
He declined to say how much volume he expects on Broadway. But sources indicated the company hopes for $30 million to $40 million in first-year sales.
That, of course, is nowhere near the enormous volume generated at Topshop's famed Oxford Circus store in London. The 90,000-square-foot U.K. flagship is adding about 12,000 square feet of space, bringing it up to about 100,000 square feet, and is projected to hit $300 million in sales this year.
The Topshop chain, including Topshop for women's wear and Topman for men's wear, is projected at $1.8 billion in sales and north of $300 million in profits for 2008, for a more than 10 percent increase. "We are trending well, as tough as it's been," Green said.
In Europe, new styles are displayed virtually every day at Topshop, and there's a new major trend story introduced every month in the front of each store. Generally, there are four or five mini collections, each presenting a different trend, but with crossover possibilities.
In women's, Topshop of late has done well with the oversize T-shirt, retailing from $30 to $40, and skinny bottom look, including the "drain pipe" jean, from $40 to $60. The store is also big on dresses, particularly in prom, going out, and Cabaret-inspired silhouettes, clown collars, bows and belts, often in the $150 range.
Prints are important as well, and, for fall, are Art Deco and bandstand inspired, with flags and stars and stripes motifs. The retailer also tests spring looks during November to get out first with a hot trend.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast