LONDON — First there were personal shoppers and now, thanks to Topshop, there are shoppers who make house calls.
The British retailer will unveil its Topshop to Go service this month, aimed at girls’ nights out and other parties. It will deliver a customized collection from any Topshop line to homes or businesses close to London.
Customers will precall a hotline to discuss the occasion, number of guests, and their likes, dislikes and sizes. Topshop staff will then put together an assortment of clothing, shoes, hosiery and accessories that will be delivered, in a Top Shop-branded Mercedes SUV, within 40 minutes.
There is no fee for the service and no pressure to buy.
“We just wanted to make our style-adviser service even better,” said Caren Downie, buying director for Topshop. She added the service may be rolled out to other major cities in the U.K. later this year.
Topshop is also catering to another niche market: pregnant women. Next week, the ‘b’ maternity collection launches in 20 Topshop stores in the U.K.
The name, ‘b’, is from the shape of a bump — what the English call a pregnant stomach — and the collection will reflect seasonal trends with key pieces, including skinny-leg jeans and pleated denim miniskirts.
“We’re focused on not looking frumpy, as well as comfort,” said Downie, who admitted the retailer’s all-female buying office was behind the launch.
“We have quite a lot of pregnancies here, and there’s consistent complaining that pregnant women have nothing stylish to wear,” she said.
Topshop, which has become a fashion institution in the U.K., has over the past five years seen its customer base creep up from young teens to women of all ages.
“On top of that, there’s been such a surge of celebrity pregnancies in the media,” said Downie, who missed out on providing Topshop customers Madonna, Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer with maternity wear.
“We’ve been developing the idea since last fall, with lots of market research and questionnaires,” said Downie. “However, the launch has taken a while as some pieces, such as the trousers, are quite tricky to get right.”
Split into two categories — daywear and nightwear — the 40-piece maternity collection will feature jersey wrap dresses, ballet sweaters, utility pants, motif T-shirts, tie camisoles and sequin-embellished tunic tops. All garments were designed to sit under a woman’s stomach, and feature discreet expandable waistbands positioned on both hips.
Downie believes the denim jeans, adapted from Topshop’s mainline range, will be a hit, as will the silk-and-chiffon babydoll dresses. “They’re the kind of dresses you can imagine Sarah Jessica Parker wearing,” she said.
A silk baby bag, with plenty of practical pockets, comes in an abstract flower print that weaves its way through the collection. Prices range from $14.40 for a cotton top to $108 for a silk tea dress, and more styles will be added each season.
Expectant mothers can prebook a maternity style adviser, an extension of Topshop’s in-store service, who will provide one-on-one maternity consultation for free, including tips on how to incorporate pieces from the main collection into a maternity wardrobe, and updates on forthcoming additions to the maternity line. Mothers-to-be can also call the store and have an edited version of the collection delivered to their doorsteps.