Photo source: fashionmagazine.com
Up until now I've tried to not really mention my opinions on Topshop on this blog. Mainly because I'm quite conflicted about how to explain them, but also because I know people don't really give a shit because they do what they do really well. If you like that sort of thing. But fuck it. It's something that I feel really angry about & if a blog that started off kind of personal style like can't talk about Topshop then the universe must be broken right? Because most people I talk to about this don't know & I think that's the problem.
We all (mostly) know that Amazon, Google and Starbucks don't pay their tax. But why does no one ever mention Arcadia? Probably because no one's heard of them. Arcadia Group Limited own some things you have heard of though; Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, BHS, Topman & yes indeed, Topshop. They are theoretically owned by Lady Christina Green, or Tina Green. She happens to live in Monaco, haha isn't that handy? A tax haven! Of all places! (She also, on a side note is a white South African, which is something that sits with me extremely uneasily.) Her husband, Sir Philip Green is actually the owner of Arcadia Group and all the others. He does the day to day running and for all intense and purposes is the owner, except he lives in London. Where you (well.. most of us) have to pay tax. So you know as a gesture to make her feel involved or whatever he put his conveniently placed wife at the helm. Imagine earning £1.2billion one year and not even being the owner! No wonder David Cameron asked Sir Green for advice on how to cut government spending, considering he managed to cream off all that profit.
This wasn't the thing that made me stop shopping there though, like 3? 4? 5, maybe, years ago though. No. It was the experience of being in a Topshop. The images showing girls with personality, models that you'd heard of, wearing clothes you could actually buy. & this is the thing "personality". I think Topshop was the first place where I ever really felt like they were trying to sell a personality to young girls. You know, like buy this dress & you'll totally be Kate Moss! Buy these shoes & you'll be Claire Danes in My So Called Life! Buy these & that guy who's never spoken to you will immediately love you! I know all advertising is like this but it felt more so in Topshop for me. I also felt like their copies of runway looks were being sold to people without the information. & the fact that Topshop is now trying so hard to drive the London Fashion Week scene makes me sort of physically sick. The fact that Samantha Cameron can pose with designers, Philip Green lurking in the background, whilst her husband diminishes the arts and pretends the fashion industry isn't one of the only things we still have going for us in this country. That the name St Martin's resonates around the world more than Eton should fucking mean something, should translate.
But it doesn't. Instead they churn out polyester copies at massive prices and inadequate quality & then turn round & tell us they know so much about fashion because they've worked with a couple of brilliant designers. & I can't say the collaborations are a bad thing to be honest, apart from the obvious fast fashion (& high fashion) guilt about eastern factory workers & the fact that they are essentially more expensive Topshop clothes that they didn't have the guts to make themselves. I also can't explain why I still shop in places like H&M or Zara who pretty much do the same thing. Well actually, H&M doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. It's collaborations are a genuine surprise and it is fast fashion but it doesn't ever say it isn't, it doesn't tell me it knows more than I do about how to dress myself.
So basically I'm still very conflicted. But my anger remains and that keeps me away. I read someone's post about Topshop clones once who probably wrote this out better than me. I mean my generation did it because it was there, I don't hold it against them. I like that everyone looks better than they did in the 90s, is more aware of fashion than they were, I just fucking hate that they all look the same & that that seems to be the ultimate goal.