Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Topman Experience

Topman's area 214 includes a house stylist, Sharps' barbers, cafe and Rough Trade.

The last week (and a bit) since Menswear Day has zoomed right past me in an excited but weary blur and the only downside to this is my 'to do' list is getting anxiously long. I have a number of post ideas gathering dust on the crooked shelf that is my mind but there is one in particular which has been waiting patiently long enough. Some of you would have noticed that during Menswear Day I was tweeting like an excited madman for our account but also for Topman's. I don't think my fingers have ever moved so quickly but thankfully I was not struck down with cramp and managed to last the whole day. Following this real time coverage (the wonders of modern technology, eh) I provided a few thoughts on the Topman related shows (New Gen Men and MAN) and got the chance to speak to a number of designers for their blog. As I've said a number of times already, I had a great day and it was amazing to watch menswear design take a huge step forward and I went to bed tired but happy. Topman however, wanted to repay me for my 'hard work' and invited me to the flagship store for a complete 'Topman experience', sampling all that the revamped store had to offer including a trim at Sharps barbers, a meet up with one of the stylists and a chance to get my hands on some of the new designs hanging on the rails.

Something for the weekend? Sharps' can certainly sort your barnet out whilst you shop.

The new upper floor at Topman's flagship store on London's Oxford Street has undoubtedly raised the bar on the high street. Of course, it is well documented on the blog that I 'm a huge fan of Uniqlo and feel little competes to the colourful, affordable basics it offers in it's stores. However, like all of the other stores on the high street, I like to spend as little time as possible inside. When I shop on the high street I swoop in like a consumerist eagle, grab what I need and escape (hopefully alive). The new look Topman will change that.

The new menswear area whilst providing a safe haven from the madness of downstairs. Topshop is one of the few places that I really dislike being dragged around. Of course I used to escape upstairs to browse the menswear but there was only so many times I could circle the rails. The new floor changes all that though. It boasts a wide range of new additions to keep me entertained including a live DJ booth by Rough Trade, an EAT cafe with Wi-Fi access, a Sharps barber and shop and even a personal stylist. The flagship store is now a true menswear shopping emporium which compares favourably to the madness of the floors below and what the rest of the high street offers. The rest of the post is dedicated to my little nose around...

Having had my hair cut by the lovely, camera shy Barry I was shown the store by personal stylist Vivienne.

As well as housing Topman's own lines, Topman Design, Smart and LTD, the menswear portfolio has been expanded to offer a carefully selected collection of menswear brands. Chosen for their credible design ethics and cult followings these include Baracuta, D.I.E, Garbstore, Paige Premium Denim, WESC, Calvin Klein Underwear, Humor, Ben Sherman to name just a few. One of my favourite additions to the shelves in store is the latest collaboration between accessory label Bill Amberg and the high street store. The four piece collection is based on styles from their own Selvage range but have been re-worked exclusively for Topman in four 'ready-for-autumn' colour ways.

All styles are made in England by West Country craftsmen and the vegetable-tanned leather is from one of the last pit tanning operations in the UK. These strong, simple bags are very hard wearing and their appearance will only improve with age. I am regretting not picking one out for myself now. It is however, great to see British craftsmanship being supported and given a platform on the high street. Likewise, a new breed of designer is being given the opportunity to sell their exciting designs...

For the very first time Topman have extended their support to emerging design talent by including their AW09 mainline collections from Christopher Shannon and James Long which were shown last season at MAN. Year after year, MAN and LFW demonstrate that the capital possesses some exciting menswear talent but it frequently all too hard to buy!

The Topman Design Aw09 show was one of my personal highlights from February and it is great to see it close up again and have the opportunity to buy it. There is outerwear made in rich wools, herringbones and Donegal tweeds which all just make me want the colder days and night to come round faster. The show itself was a masterclass in layering, with fine check shirts over soft rib vests and colour injected into traditional greys and browns via chunky knitted cardigans and as all of the components are on sale I was more than a little tempted to try it out for myself.

Lens, the designer collaborations area is thankfully back with an impressive line up of designers. After the past successes, Kasper Harup Hansen, Dexter Wong, Carolyn Massey and Mjolk have once again stepped up to design new ranges which will help you through the colder seasons in affordable style. I have to confess that I concentrated most of my attention on this area.

The Carolyn Massey lens line is particularly strong. In fact, on the opening night I bought the navy scarf coat which I've been wearing to work when it is just about cool enough to do so. During my wander around the store last week I was eager to buy more but I managed to just about restrain myself. I tried on the below fairisle cardigan and it made me feel like Christmas personified. As it was only September, I thought it too soon to be reminded of that particular time of year but will no doubt regret my decision if real snowflakes fall later this year. Later this week I will post outfit shots of my new buys, I am just waiting on my jet setting photographer (Susie) to return back from Paris.


Matthew Spade said...

it certainly is looking miles better, i guess we may find that floor less busy as the mainstream area which can only be a good thing. the lens/designer collections look great on camera too, the areas look very neat and well merched.

it may be a bit early for the sort of thing but it doesn't hurt one to be ahead of the game.

Traveling Circus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I couldn't believe the transformation. It's just so much more easily navigated and the addition of all that LENS stock and various other designers makes it even more appealing.

I bought the Dexter Wong for Topman donkey jacket when I was over for menswear - this could be love.


Jason said...

Not made it to London to see the new floor yet so thanks for the review.

issye margaretha kamal said...

i love your blog :) a very nice blog .
nice to know you .
by the way, follow my twitter please.

Blank Label said...

thats a killer winter cardigan!
love the snowflake design.
i also love the red pants! colored pants / denim have my heart

james said...

new topman is great - more space, better selection, and EAT, obviously - but seriously dislike the fitting rooms. i know it seems quite minor but when you're trying on winter jackets in 40 degree heat all you want to do is get the off again. and its october now - imagine them in mid july.

tanya said...


TheSundayBest said...

Well, it couldn't possibly be worse than it was - that store gave me the shivers.

Now I'll just have to come back to London and have a look.


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