Topshop owner closing 250 stores

Arcadia, the owner of popular fashion stores Topshop, has announced it will close 250-260 stores in the UK.

Topshop is mostly sold in New Zealand through its website but does have a presence in Auckland at The Department Store in Takapuna, which is co-owned by Karen Walker.

The British retail group owned by billionaire Philip Green added to the bad news coming from the UK high street by posting a 38% fall in year profit and a further deterioration in recent trading as mild weather deterred winter clothing purchases.

Green told the BBC the stores would close over the next few years as their leases came up for renewal.

The group, which also owns the Topman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans brands, also said it expects to see heavy discounting for Christmas.

It has closed 65 stores over the past year.

Arcadia today reported a pretax profit of 133.1 million pounds ($NZ277 million) in the year to August 27, down from 213.2m pounds (in the 2009-10 year.

Total sales, from 2,507 owned stores and 600 franchised outlets in 36 countries, fell 3.4% to 2.683 billion pounds.

E-commerce sales did, however, rise 27%.

Sales at UK stores open over a year, including VAT sales tax, fell 1.8%, with the group badly hit by last December’s heavy snow.

Margin fell 1.8%age points after the firm chose not to pass on cost increases to customers. That cost the group 52.4 million pounds.

Like-for-like sales, including VAT, were down 4.4% in the first 12 weeks of the new financial year.

“Trading conditions remain extremely challenging, with style, quality and value at the top of our agenda and more important than ever. Additionally, the warmest October and November on record have made Autumn trading much tougher,” said Monaco-based Green.

He said the firm’s young fashion brands Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge were trading positively.

Britons have been feeling the pinch as disposable incomes are squeezed by rising prices, muted wage growth and government austerity measures, and as they worry about a stagnant housing market, job security, a fragile economic recovery and the euro zone debt crisis.



I was wondering if Topshop annually made a contract with an infamous designer for the collaboration, they would not have closed 250 stores. When Topshop collaborated with Kate Moss years ago, millions of British people were crazy over buying Topshop clothes. H&M’s collaboration with a luxury brand every year makes people to think H&M positively.


The Substance of Style

“The Substance of Style” by Virginia Postrell points that the beauty is important. There have been many styles by now for decades and people have different styles, but there is a universal standard that brings people to think an aesthetic of beauty as something “good looking.” Expressing individual’s identity has reduced as the idea of globalization started. However, the media has played a big role in telling us what designs we want. Many people often want designs mostly for their purposes. I think it’s about their status, and not for how they look. They have desire to impress themselves in order to get along with the community. Some designs are more about money than design. Design sometimes starts to mean something more than aesthetics, it means status. The reading immediately reminded me of Apple’s steady selling iPhone4. The iPhone would be the most aesthetic smart phone that everyone would love to have. Especially at Parsons, almost every design student owns an iPhone. Owning the iPhone and wearing trendy clothes makes them think that they are part of Parsons’ community(Of course, from my experience, not everyone does but most of them do)When I first came to Parsons, I asked Korean Association students what phone would be good for me to use in New York and they all suggested me an iPhone addressing that almost everyone at Parsons owns an iPhone. During my freshman year, my friends changed their phone to the iPhone4 because they noticed classmates surrounded by them made them desire to purchase an iPhone. The iPhone4 is rated as the most expensive mobile and it has highest popularity rate of all phones. In South Korea, people are concerning the rise of many middle classes purchasing unaffordable goods. It is all because there is huge gap between treating each social ranks and people tend to judge signals initially rather than learning about the signifier. I believe that’s all how people react at first. One of South Korea’s famous critics said to the public that people carrying an iPhone with them on streets reflect as carrying a Louis Vuitton bags. The media falsely reported to the public that the scene of a lady carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, an iPhone, and Starbucks coffee take out on a street became many Korean women’s dream. This famous statement has become reality and made lots of ladies to dream for the scene. I think this is very wrong and threatens the nation’s culture. South Korea is losing its cultural identities due to people’s demand for western looks. It is difficult to spot a person has his or her own personal identity. This is also happening in other Asian nations and those countries are losing its aesthetics due to the global standard.

Performance & Identity

Goffman addresses that audiences judge performers with their impression. During the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem had gender, sex, and multi-racial community(black dominated). The African American dandies were performers to get involved and be part of the culture. They tried to convey their identity to the dominated white culture. During Harlem Renaissance, queers resided along with black community in Harlem which created many images for Harlem. The people of Harlem fought for their rights and evolved their fashion or “appearance” to become cultivated. The dominant white community was fascinated with Harlem and African American’s new look. In Page 201, Johnson reshaped the image of African Americans saying, “We have more heart, more soul; we are more responsive to emotional vibrations; we have a larger share of the gifts of laughter, music and song.” I was directly conveyed by this message that African American culture has its own identity and aesthetic. I think the reason because whole race cultures were segregated is because it is impossible for them to understand other race with  different skin ton and cultural background at first. It takes time to learn for them to understand the other community. Fashion is all about the time consuming. Johnson had concerns about African materiality not recognizing gender, sex, and race categories under the pressure of authenticity. Harlem has a content of social, psychological, and cultural attributes created by society. Audience being dominant white culture Harlem are the performers. I think it’s important for every audience to study a performer understanding its impressions so it he or she could accept the performer as part of his culture. Fashion is fixed to define the situation for those who observe an individual’s performance with regular functions.

This is the video filmed in 1935. Josephine Baker, an African American (later received a citizenship in France) had no identity before she moved to Paris for her career as an artist. She was raised working for a white family in United States and the community considered her as a monkey for her spiritual dance. Her performances were very successful in France and people welcome her as a community unlike to people in America treated to her. Baker was a modernist who performed herself for the identity.

Beyonce wore the famous “banana costume” that Baker wore often in her performances before at Fashion Rocks 2006 event

Waste & Value?

After readings, fast fashion mass market companies like H&M and Forever 21 initially appeared on my thought. Those mass market companies have great marketing strategy to sell people affordable clothes and youngsters can keep on track with the trend from what they bought from those brands. One major concerning thing about Forever 21 and H&M is that apparels are cheaply made for fast fashion and companies’ profit. Their customers wear their purchased items for a year and then purchase new trendy items in the next season. Most of them do not keep/cannot keep fad items in their wardrobes. It is wise choice for them to donate fads to thrift stores rather than just throwing clothes away even though the clothes are not given away to poor people. The readings issue the problems of charity companies but there are small charity associations donate free clothes and living products to low income families and hobos. When I lived in California, I often saw neighbors throwing garments away in the garbage along with wastes. There is no segregated garbage system in California unlike from how we segregate wastes in to categories here in New York. Rather than buying cheap fast fashion fad items, I prefer to shop better quality and shaped items and wear them for a decade or more. Of course, as a student, it is very understandable that people buy affordable clothes at fast fashion brands with low budget but I happen to see clothes from mass market are causing great amount of textile wastes.


My chosen Space of Consumption is bebe. I went to the store with Kelseo because she wanted to go there and we had different opinions toward the space of the store. I have never been to any bebe store until tonight because I do not like feminine and sexy garments and the label “bebe” sounded too sexually appealing. Right before entering the space, I was very annoyed with trunks displayed on the show window. It reminded me of Louis Vuitton’s monogram trunks and I started to have negative thoughts toward the brand’s image and hesitated to enter the store. When I first entered the space, whole garments in the space looked like imitated designs from high end brands like Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Lanvin. Also I automatically assumed that the brand’s targeted customers are young ladies who love to wear sexy and sophisticated clothes as what I expected. I felt the strong “taste” of the brand just simply looking at each garments. I asked the cashier what kind of customer she sees in the store everyday and she said, “18 to 35 years old young, sexy, fashionable, social, and trendy ladies” but the customers I saw in the store were old ladies wandering around in training pants trying nice fur coats on them, then leaving the store carrying “bebe” shopping bag on their arm. That adrenaline was so striking, interesting, and confusing at the same time. The workers wore casual clothes from “bebe” and they looked like walking mannequins. Then I moved my eyes on to the interior as I walked around the space. The walls and ceilings were painted in white and lights were softly beaming through the space. When I think of term “bebe”, it reminds of strong and aggressive light beams with loud pop music. The music played in the space did not match to the whole interior which really bothered me. There were black columns with gold ornaments and rounded cushions around the column for tired shoppers. The trendy clothes and mannequins were neatly narrated all over the space. The narration of clothes seemed quite successful to win over the brand’s targeted customers’ hearts. I was quite sure that the clothes were designed for young sexy ladies’ social interacting purposes like going out to a party or having a nice dinner with her friends, but  I think the clothes were too trendy and fast fashioned which those mostly like might become fads next season. The interior of the space did not reflect the image of the brand. It would have been better if the whole space was painted in black and strong light beaming through the space to appeal young ladies.


Old Korean shoes from early 1700s – I took the picture at National Folk Museum in South Korea during this summer

Japanese Avant Garde Minimalism

(1983) A lady and guy wearing reformed western style kimonos

(i didnt took this picture)

During 1980’s, Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo brought an innovative, radical, and conceptual form to the fashion industry in Paris. She reformed and deconstructed western and eastern “cultural” garments into unexpected design (at that time) that concealed its gender. The style she created is called Japanese Anti Fashion which was completely different from 1980’s retro fashion like neon colors and aerobic wears. Soon, after few years, other Japanese designers, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake, joined Rei’s philosophy of creating new form to hide a culture’s identity and gender. Their designs were very radical when first introduced to the public, but “people” who were tired of following the trend (or avoiding the society) from that decade started wearing subcultural  and minimal garments designed by Japanese designers. Japanese Avant Garde fashion(I would rather call it as conceptual art, not fashion because Rei primarily introduced the collection as a conceptual art) became subcultural and classical look that still lasts today and will never become a fad.


This is modern japanese avant garde fashion and i took the picture of subculture last week at Yohji Yamamoto’s Y3 Spring 2012 collection show in Soho

I went there to spot people wearing Japanese Avant Garde look to Y3’s collection