Reflecting on my notes and everyone’s opinions and observations in the seminar i began to think about the age at which fashion becomes a part in people’s lives and the accessability of fashion and information to the masses.
A shop which was largely discussed was, of course, Topshop. A shop which has dominated the highstreet and pulls in millions of pounds worldwide - which are two big achievments, so ‘what could possibley be wrong?’ you ask. Well, as fashion has become more widely available to everyone Topshop’s customers seem to have gotten younger and younger and younger and we began to question in the seminar if this is a good thing or not.
Of course, pulling in more customers and making more money is a positive thing to a shop as that is their main goal but is it worth pulling in a whole new customer base if you’re going to be pushing out your long suffering, loyal customers? Topshop seems more than happy to have embraced the fact that the customers in their stores seem to be averaging out at around 13/14/15 years old and are always adapting to cater to this and create the shopping experience those people want to have when they come into the shop to spend their (parent’s) hard earned cash. A few years ago their main customers had an age of around 18 years/19 years/early 20s, and there is clearly quite a steep gap between then and now, but now do girls/women who are that age want to have the signature ‘Topshop girl’ look when it seems to belong to 13 year olds? In short, the answer is no. No 20 year old woman wants to dress like a 13 year old girl.
So, have Topshop blown it? Have their older customers flown the nest and migrated to more high end shops such as Acne and Bluebird? Not entirely, is the answer to those questions because being the clever brand that they are Topshop have taken some steps to keeping their older, original customer base interested. The Topshop website is very clear-cut and easy to use with a simple black, grey and white colour theme - quite different from the busy, decorative and ’glamourous’ aesthetic a lot of the stores seem to take on, and is absolutely more for the advantage of the older customer who does not want to walk into to jungle which is a topshop store and battle their way through the ravenous little creatures that dwell within, also known as 13 year olds.
So, through the website Topshop have found a way to keep their older audience buying, but they also have another little trick up their sleeve and this is Topshop Unique: a range of clothes which are slightly more upscale than the regular items they stock and come with a matching price tag. A coat from Topshop unique will cost you about £150, which in terms of fashion is not particularly dear at all - unless you are 13/14/15 years old, your parents probably aren’t going to spring for that. But, that is great for Topshop because the older customers feel they have a range more suited to them and their maturity level where as the younger audience have all the regular, cheaper stuff - it’s very cleverly creating a divide which pleases everyone.
But the question that lingers is.. if things carry on the way they are going, soon will the younger audience move on to the Unique range and send the older customers fleeing in terror at the prospect of sharing a wardrobe with a child?
Will Topshop become a victim of it’s own success? ..Or has it already happened?