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She’s arguably Topshop’s most famous customer. Now Beyoncé is connecting further by partnering with the brand.

Beyoncé Knowles and London-based Topshop have formed a 50-50 joint venture company, Parkwood Topshop Athletic Ltd., to produce an athletic streetwear brand, WWD has learned. It could launch in stores and online in fall 2015 at the earliest.

This story first appeared in the October 27, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The deal is expected to be unveiled by Topshop in London today.

“This not a collaboration. This is about building a brand and building a business — a separate, proper business, with separate overhead and a separate office,” Topshop owner Sir Philip Green told WWD in an interview Sunday.

Asked how the deal came about, Green recalled: “Basically, when she was in London in February we arranged to get together. We started talking generally, about doing something together. We’ve been looking at that [athletic] sector for a while. It’s something we need to be in. Based on what she does, how she works out, the conversation got into that category. We started getting into proper conversation in May or June, as to how it would work. It took six or eight weeks to put a deal together. On Friday, “Beyoncé came to our office for the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle.”

Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z have been widely photographed in Paris and London over the past week or so.

“I have always loved Topshop for their fashion credentials and forward thinking,” Beyoncé said.

An athletic brand with Topshop seems like destiny, given the retailer’s edgy, out-there DNA, and Beyoncé’s penchant for va-va-voom attention grabbers, on or off the red carpet. Topshop gives the leggy singer another theater to show off her assets and broadcast her fierce message of sexuality and empowering females that she brings to the stage and screen. She said she would work with the product development team Topshop puts in place to “create and produce a technical and fashion-led collection” and “participate in all aspects of the partnership.”

Beyoncé becomes Topshop’s vehicle to enter activewear, which is currently one of retailing’s hottest categories, and to make a strong statement with the backing of a superstar. Aside from the revenue potential, Green underscored the social-media potential, given the celebrity’s global popularity. She has 19 million followers on Instagram, while Topshop has 3.2 million.

Topshop currently has no celebrity tie-ins, though it has recently collaborated with Kate Moss on collections as one-offs; the last one being around last Easter, which sold for about a month. Beyoncé’s existing product range under her name extends from a trio of fragrances, to temporary tattoos, and juniors, dresses, denim and hip-hop inspired clothing from her House of Dereon fashion business, which was formed about a decade ago by Beyoncé and her mother/stylist Tina Knowles.

There are still plenty of pieces that need to be put in place at the new venture, not the least of which is coming up with a name for the collection, the manufacturing logistics, forming a team and establishing an office, which Green said would likely be in New York.

“We have much to achieve in just under a year,” Green said. He plans to hire someone to run the joint venture, as well as a creative director, and two designers — one sports-related who understands the technical aspect of workoutwear, such as stretch and wicking; the other, a fashion designer. With the deal signed, “Now we can go and talk about hiring some people,” Green said. “We’ve been brainstorming about the name. We haven’t got there yet.”

The Topshop-Beyoncé collection will encompass clothing, footwear and accessories across dance, fitness and sports categories. It will have technical performance characteristics as well as an ath-leisure side, targeting women who go to yoga or the health club, as well as those who just want to look as if they do.

The collection will be distributed to Topshop stores and, but also to other retailers. “Assuming the line is sufficient, it will certainly be in our biggest stores, hopefully as a shop within shop, having its own identity in the stores, certainly in the stores where we have the space. Outside of our own stores, we will talk to Nordstrom where we’ve got a relationship and then we see who else we talk to from there.” Since summer 2012, Nordstrom has been rolling out Topshop and Topman shops in its stores to capture a younger clientele; currently there are 52.

Hudson’s Bay in Canada also operates Topshop and Topman in-store shops. Topshop has 330 stores in the U.K., and is approaching 500 worldwide. One very likely spot for the Beyoncé collection is in New York, where Topshop-Topman on Nov. 5 will open a flagship at 608 Fifth Avenue, on 49th Street opposite Saks Fifth Avenue. The 40,000-square-foot, four level flagship, with three floors of selling space, will be Topshop’s largest U.S. store and second-largest store in the world. The largest Topshop location is the flagship on Oxford Circus in London.

Asked if he ever saw Beyoncé work out, Green said, “No, but I went to her concert in Paris the other week. She’s a great dancer, one of the most hard-working and talented people in the world, who spends many hours of her life dancing, rehearsing and training. This is a unique opportunity to develop this category.” He cited the possibility of Beyoncé creating some workout videos for Topshop. “Maybe she would also give me some training — you never know.”​
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