Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica returns to today's Thursday Styles with a surprisingly overdue visit to the new Topman section of the immense new Topshop flagship on Fifth Avenue. At first, it seems like our shopper is suffering from a bout of Menswear Myopia as he calls the fast-fashion giant a paragon of coming in second. We aren't quite sure what this is supposed to mean. It it second-best, or just the second of Topshop's New York flagships? At any rate, he seems to be predisposed to disdain the whole concept of affordable trend driven fashion retail. "As with most fast-fashion enterprises, Topman is essentially an exercise in parsing out what’s copyrightable and what’s up for grabs," he writes, but we all know that fast-fashion has its place. We learned it from Anne Hathaway's dumpy "cerulean" sweater in The Devil Wears Prada. Will Topman's knock-offs ever live up to the originals? No, but we need them to facilitate fashion's trickle-down effect. What our shopper initially seems unable to appreciate is that outside the #menswear bubble, Topman's approximations of more costly designer wear is not the second but the first choice for so many young men without access to the sample sales, flash sales and even store clearance sales that allow so many of us her in New York to put together an outfit whose retail tally would easily top a month's rent, but in reality only cost a fraction of it. You won't be so impressed by Topman if you are steeped in the original Raf and Dries and Hedi that they are copying, or if you are obsessive about which Japanese factory milled the bulletproof denim in the jeans you are trying to break in. And yet, our shopper starts to give in, noticing that some of this cheap stuff isn't so bad after all, winding up with what sounds like a very nice purchase for himself,
Take the burgundy suede bomber ($250), which I tried on and virtually wore out of the store. It’s from the Topman Ltd. Collection, and was a totally passable version of something, say, Officine Generale would make.
Well, there you go, spend a little time down in those Topman basements, and thinkg start to look better than you thought they would.
Critical Shopper: opman Wins Big at Second-Place Fashion By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Topman 608 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, Midtown