Topman (thankfully) Continues To Come Up Trumps for S/S’12

by Katie on January 5, 2012

Time was you could depend on the chain stores to provide their own interpretations of designer menswear. Nowadays though, with retailers seemingly more influenced by American immigrant Abercrombie & Fitch, or the rather stuck aesthetic of struggling brand All Saints, these “high street cheats” have become scarcer than a decent facial scrub (I may forget St Ives, but I’ll never forgive).
Even Zara, the last bastion of decent designer led ‘inspiration’, has somewhat killed that idea by  by branding every button, rivet, and zip of its men’s collections. Thank the Lord then for Topman – a sentence I never thought I’d write, but the jewel in Arcadia’s menswear crown has moved on from the East London indie togs which defined the ‘Skins’ generation and has, if not grown up, got a little more sophisticated.
The Topman Design Spring/Summer 2012 collection is a master class in homage, a grab-bag of influences from the best of the international designer menswear collections. Foulard prints filched from D&G, James Long-style marled knits, some Umit Benan-esque tailoring, a smattering of Prada Lurex, and a hefty slab of J.W. Anderson heterogeneity. Topman Design has got it all going on this Summer, and should have Arcadia’s competitors quaking in their espadrilles.
Not content with setting the agenda on the high street, Topman’s online magazine ‘Generation’ is a refreshingly eclectic alternative to the rather dry and dilettantish editorial favoured by other online retailers, the mix of art, fashion, and music reminiscent of dearly-departed and much-missed magazine The Face.
Topman’s commitment to high fashion is also shown through their bi-annual sponsorship of the Man showcase during London Fashion Week in partnership with Fashion East. Following a couple of lacklustre seasons dominated by fashion studenty sheer tops and capes, Martine Rose’s bleached-out skate wear, the modernist utilitarian tailoring of Matthew Miller, and Shaun Samson’s West Coast convenience store clerks and surfer dudes make a formidable third prong for Topman’s attack on the male psyche over the next few months.
Topman, and its sister chain Topshop, remain a controversial presence on the London schedule, mostly due to the tax arrangements of Arcadia CEO Philip Green, but their season-upon-season support of nascent design talent is essential during the economic downturn, and also underlines how influential the British retailer actually is.

There will be casualties on the high street over the coming year, there’s no doubt about that, but we can confidently predict that Topman will remain the cornerstone of men’s wardrobes for quite some time to come.

Article written by Lee Clatworthy (@TeamChutzpah) for Katie Chutzpah Blog.

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