Topshop Lands in New York

Topshop and its over-the-top rock ’n’ roll merchandising have finally arrived in SoHo.

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For a business that’s built on a strategy of selling irreverent, youthful clothes, and long inspired by the hip music scene — there’s even a DJ booth that will be playing music on busy shopping days and special events — there’s a serious intent to sell out on its vast array of items fast and replenish with new fashion items rather than reordering. The plan is for daily deliveries and 100 or so new items a week, so the customers keep coming.

And despite the recession, there’s nothing safe in the approach or basic in the collection — even the classic cardigans insist on a fashion twist or two, and the Liberty prints appear on unusual bubble silhouettes.

In another break from retail tradition, Topshop will have none of the ubiquitous markdowns seen everywhere in retailing. The company stages only four sales a year and otherwise won’t price promote, though the store will be offering students a 10 percent discount.

“It’s been a journey,” said Mary Homer, managing director, of the retailer’s American launch.

And a long one at that, with the store originally expected to open last fall but delayed by a flood, a fire and construction issues with the city. “We learned we couldn’t wake up in the morning without needing another new permit,” Green said.

Despite the hurdles, Green said he kept the costs in the $20 million to $25 million range. It’s Topshop’s first overseas store that’s owned, not franchised. The retailer has been on an aggressive expansion program in the last few years, opening more units not only in the U.K. but also in continental Europe and Russia.

“We’ve got to be able to operate in this market,” Green said of the U.S. “If H&M and Zara are here, why can’t we be?”

In the New York flagship, each selling floor is 6,000 to 7,000 square feet, with Topman for men’s wear on the basement level. Topman includes a Lens boutique for contemporary wear and Topman’s runway looks showcased during London Fashion Week; a revolving shop to highlight trends like trenchcoats, blazers, and scarves; a denim area that features skinny jeans in a variety of washes and finishes; a “T room” for graphic and more basic T-shirts; an accessory area for geeky eyeglasses and Trilby hats; an area for Plimsol canvas pumps and other footwear, and a Smart shop for suits.

In Topshop, on the main floor, front and center is the big trend story, which is currently themed Glory Days, a post-War nod to florals, stripes and “Englishness,” as Homer noted. On the mezzanine is the DJ booth, and on two, right off the escalator, is a 500-square foot “Boutique” featuring runway looks and designer collaborations including Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll and Preen. At the end of April, Topshop will introduce a line by Barbara Hulanicki of Biba fame. Nearby is the 700-square-foot Kate Moss shop with about 60 percent dresses including sequined, sexy styles and long chiffon tiered dresses with Liberty prints, as well as daywear pieces such as jersey tops and statement jackets.

The second floor also houses denim, featuring slim boyfriend “Harper” jeans and “Baxter” slim skinny fits. There’s a jersey display, and a holiday shop for swimwear, shorts, sunglasses and beach cover-ups.

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