Topshop ruin cool things.
You know how the mainstream always has a way of ruining any burgeoning scene of individuality – scouting it, ripping it off and re-marketing it? A good example, as cringy as it is, is ‘nu-rave’ (saying that, the prefix ‘nu’ with any word can destroy the word’s original reputation – metal for example.) It started off as a scene of bands playing squat parties, free shows and wearing, on the most part, pretty decent clothes; like the dude from Klaxons wearing a surprisingly tasteful Cassette Playa shirt in one of their early press shots.
There is one establishment that is to blame for the eventual embarrassment of a genre that nu-rave came to be however, along with any other youth movement that breaks out of our cities and towns: Topshop. Well them and Skins, but that’s just a TV show accurately portraying what we as a generation are like right? God, that time a dealer forced four ounces of skunk in to my hands the first time I met him and my friend drove a stolen car in to a pond was mad. Topshop have a knack of doing this with every sub-culture that emerges – I can guarantee that if disco came back in you would start to see high-waisted flares and shirts with ridiculously huge collars making their way on to the Topshop shelves.
It’s not that they make horrible clothes, because of course they don’t – something from Topshop paired with a find from a charity shop can make a rad outfit, it’s just when you see someone dressed exclusively off the rails in whatever has been recently ripped off that it starts to become a bit dire. The buildings in which you’ll find these rails all seem to resemble aircraft hangars, perhaps a cheeky note from owner Phillip Green – doing your shopping somewhere as vacuous as the Oxford Street branch will make you realise the mundanity of the look-alike clothes hanging around everywhere. Perhaps not.
As soon as a new youth movement becomes apparent, no matter how lame it is (emo), Topshop will be straight in there, shoving their spray on jeans and Dennis the Menace jumpers (the guy from My Chemical Romance was pictured sporting one) down the consumers throats. As many of us dress in a way that subconsciously suggests to others our interests and tastes, Topshop’s mass production of individuality clearly stifles any hope of personal expression through clothing.
Obviously the irony here is that any scene promoting individuality will ultimately adopt it’s own strict uniform, forcing everyone to end up looking exactly the same. Just look at punk. The real problem here however is that Topshop and Topman will just take whatever design they like, re-package it, give it that little bit of high-street soullessness and sell it on to the masses. It’s funny that people who wouldn’t be seen dead wearing the same outfit as another at a party will happily spend all their pennies here, on clothes that thousands of other people already have.
drawing Arnaud Aubry