Wednesday night was second round of the annual wedding party for the happy matrimony between British student loans and the Topshop cash tills; scores of squealing students queued in a double backed line outside the Argyle Street store in the hope of grabbing their favourite Kate Moss creation or Chloé rip-off with a generous extra 10% off the usual discount. They needen’t have worried. The love affair between high street chain and the 17-23 yr old market has long and successfully flourished; and with a keen eye for trends, generous termly allowances and the daily campus catwalk contest, the students are the drunk girls left teetering at the end of the party for stealthy, lustful men like Phillip Green to come swooping in on.
When the doors opened, there was no stopping ’em, and it was all the doorman could do to glance hurridly at brandished student cards as the oesrogen came swarming in. It might as well have been saturday afternoon, as the teeming store soon saw lines forming at both fitting room and cash desk, of girls, gays, and the odd boyfriend here and there looking rather bewildered by it all.
From time to time, Topshop can actually spin out some funky stuff. Check the above, disco dancing ankle boots; otherwise a versatile, basic black ankle boot, the kooky heel detail and shiny toe means these would perfect any 80s inspired ensemble with a 21st century slick flick, while the platform is of that a-little-bit-extra under-slice as seen on Jil Sander and Oscar de la Renta creations, i.e. a normal marker to an haute retail shoe. Similarly sumptous were these “Pendulum” boots by Top shop boutique. Biker hardware to the max, the shape of the lacing on the toe gives an almost Irregular Choice-esque hoof foot look. But the size of that heel? Yeah, looks gorgeous in the shop, but Topshop is a clothing, not footwear choice by nature, and you can bet your bottom dollar they’d have none of the comfort you’d wish for; you would feel every one of the 5 inches of the heel every step of the way.
Topshop are a crafty wee company, especially the Kate Moss collaboration, like the two most popular kids in the school getting together. And they do support young designers, with the Unique catwalk show every London Fashion week as well as offering capsule collections to up-and-coming talent. And when it comes to their own design, it’s true, they are top notch. Trend after trend are box-ticked with an almost Teutonic rigour; structuring? Check. Nude tones? Check. Florals, studs and lace? Check check check. When they get it right, they get it really freakin’ right, and the rest of the tim’es not bad either – a Topshop gem is worth seeing half of Glasgow in it too if you know you love it. Some of my best-loved staples have come straight from their racks.
But if you don’t absolutely love it in the kind of exchange-your-left-limb-for-it way, the sheer certainty that you’ll bump into it on the street on someone else’s hide sorta kills the party, and anyway, fashion shouldn’t be this easy, kids. And although the prices don’t reflect it, the manufacturing quality is utter shite. These are clothes made to be worn for no more than a season, and while this must seem like peanuts to bankers, the price tag inevitably sets you way back in the terms of your student loan. Fast fashion at its best? Primark and H&M have got it for less, pal.