The line outside Topshop on Thursday morning – which consisted of dewy-eyed teenagers, students forgoing morning classes, and older (albeit equally giddy) stylists – resembled a crowd waiting to get in to Santos Party House or Webster Hall on a Saturday night, save for the disproportion of girls to guys and, of course, the sunny weather. The New York media also came out in full force, documenting the line that stretched for two or more blocks throughout the day, while hapless bystanders struggled to comprehend why the fashionistas were willing to spend half a day and half a paycheck at what, for all intents and purposes, was just another clothing store.
Despite the wait – over an hour if you arrived before the 11AM grand opening (as I did) and easily twice as long for the rest of the day – the inside of the store was manageable, especially the men’s section on the lower level, which was appreciably less hectic than the upper floors. Live DJs were a slight upgrade to the usual Urban Outfitters soundtrack but went largely unnoticed by swarms of avid shoppers. Meanwhile, lines for both the dressing rooms and registers inevitably grew with the day, as fledgling staff juggled credit cards, gift cards and student IDs.
As for the collections, Topman tends to be less parasitic on couture than Topshop, though the basement is no less of a visual onslaught than the top three floors of womens’ clothing. Brand-spanking-new racks of colorful basics are arrayed in the center of the floor, with sections such as full suits, footwear, accessories and denim lining the walls. The higher-end ‘Topman Design’ section occupies a boutique space in another corner, which can be viewed in slideshow form at Urban Daddy.
The look and feel of Topman is perhaps less continental (and pricier) than the likes of H&M, but definitely smacks of hipster fashions; the brand is a veritable mash-up of Ben Sherman, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. Only time will tell whether there is enough room in Soho – not to mention the oversaturated fast-fashion market in general – to support yet another European import.
In any case, I would postpone an actual visit until next week. In the meantime, you can view most of the goods online at Topman.com.
Text & Photography: Raymond Hu