EVERYBODY’S been going on about Top Shop at the V&A Waterfront recently so when I found myself there last week I popped in. Of course I had high hopes for the V&A branch because I used to frequently squander my salary at Oxford Street Top Shop when I lived in London. So I was excited to revisit an old “haunt”.
Upon entering, I was rather surprised with what I found. It’s clearly been 10 years since I shopped at Top Shop because most of the clothes upon entry were for sixteen year olds! Great, another YDE. The initial ranges at Top Shop were TINY, tiny outfits for tiny bodies! And of course the style was very “Can I wear your Grandpa’s clothes?” mixed with the sport trend at the moment. Ooops! Not so me.
Having said that, there were also some unique and more mature options that were great. There’s nothing very innovative about the clothing in South Africa. It’s the same style in every store so I was pleased to see a few unique pieces. I’m thinking of a particular pair of dungarees really, but an elegant pair made from a pearly material. Really lovely. How the hell one styles that, I have no idea! But I liked the fact that it was innovative and it was there. There were also lovely blazers but I’m not sure if consumers will stop buying blazers at Cotton On for Top Shop.
As time has gone by in South Africa, international brands like Mango, Ben Sherman and, now, Top Shop might find their greatest competition from the cheaper stores such as Cotton On and Mr Price.
I can’t help feeling like these stores are set up to fail or to disappoint to some degree. So many people have so many fond memories about their shopping experiences at these international branded stores yet we tend to forget that we were shopping in earned pounds or dollars at the time and not converted Rands! So everyone rushes off to these stores yet inevitably the thought comes to mind, “Ah I can get that somewhere cheaper.” And before you know it, the store becomes redundant and cookie cutter like all the rest.
I hope Top Shop is supported well so that it has a chance to provide unique items and a connection to first world fashion (are the buyers South African or European?). None the less, Top Shop is positioned perfectly at the end of “Millionare’s Alley”, next to Mango at the V&A so international tourists are also welcome to shop at the brand. Best of luck to Top Shop! Long may it last 🙂