There’s something to be said for Topman Design. Yes, they indeed have the muscle (and moolah) of Sir Philip Green and the support of the BFC due to the retailer giant’s unabashed support of young design talent in Britain. But, it’s in-house design team who also have a very clear and distinctive hand-writing each season that’s bold enough to be on-trend yet create its own waves and linear style. And, in doing so, proves the multi talent that often goes unnoticed in the British high street’s creative and design departments that are teaming with the finest graduates of UK fashion schools. Let’s face it, the British High Street is unrivalled in original, street-beat, fast fashion that conversely, often influences upwards to the designers.
There were heaps of originality on show for Autumn/Winter ‘14 at Topman Design. First of all, perusing the show notes, they had commissioned an original poem from national indie treasure (and one of my ex Colony Room compatriots) John Cooper-Clarke. Clarke’s voice boomed in his nasal Northern twang, spitting out words that described the collection as the models started to roll by. “PVC with a careless drape, a peacoat cut right out a shape, Steel ropes and battleship chains, overarching cranes and trains, Straight down the middle of the lanes, CLICK CLACK CLICKETY CLACK, Return of the PAC-A-Mac in a semi see-thru shade of black, this kick-ass boot with a heavy track..”. This was original, witty and British to the bones and spoke for the type of brains going on behind the scenes at the offices of Arcadia Group.
The collection, too, strode it’s own path in waders, PVC, cable sweaters and fisherman’s boots – how clever of the design team who seemed to relay the mood of a rain-soaked, sodden and bashed, tidal-wave hit Britain.
The funkiest fishermen to hit land strode through the (man-made) rain shower at the end of the show in their cropped peacoats, felted knits, PVC bonded wool coats, cable knitwear, heavy-weight wool suits, wide leg woollen trousers and pinstripe wool suits. They weren’t mocking the weather. They were mirroring it. Street-style.