I'll admit Residents. At heart, I am not-so-secretly a bit of an anglophile. My mum is English so since a young age I've been brought up with a healthy appreciation of anything with the Union Jack on it, Kate Moss and British Vogue (clearly superior to American Vogue).
As a blogger and a Wellingtonian, I've been seriously looking forward to the arrival of Topshop in Wellington. Despite being swept up in the excitement of it all, I had some questions about Wellington and its locals for Jamie Whiting, Top Retail Group Managing Director. With the help Sarah Harris, Topshop Topman NZ Product Manager, I got to the bottom of what we can expect, why collaborate with local's, the Wellington/Auckland fashion distinction and more importantly, what to wear out on Cuba Street for Dinner...
Q1. How did Topshop come to New Zealand to start with? It's had a presence for several years, even before the Auckland store. How did it sail to these sunny shores from Mother England?
In 2009, Topshop Topman extended their online shipping network to New Zealand to help gauge the desire for the brand down here. The response was overwhelming, and in early 2010 Karen Walker initially brought the Topshop Topman brands to the NZ market as concession brands at The Department Store in Auckland. Having seen the success of the brands and popularity from its fans, Karen joined forces with Mary Devine, and the guys from Barkers to bring the full operation to NZ in 2015.
Q2. Topshop has evolved over the 20th and 21st century - since my mums days in London in the 80s for example. Can you explain this evolution and why Topshop has remained timeless and yet popular?
Topshop & Topman has indeed changed since the ‘80s, and the fashion brands we see today have been evolving at a rapid rate since their inception. Topshop & Topman are no longer driven by trend reaction, but rather they have invested in design and collaborations, that have seen them propelled to the cutting edge of fashion worldwide. TOPSHOP’s seasonal runway shows with their UNIQUE range at London Fashion Week and their collaborations with Kate Moss and J.W. Anderson are testament to the influence the brand has.
Q3. Why did Topshop decide to open a Wellington store? What have been the challenges and the "fist punch in air" moments through the journey?
Wellington is a city known for style, so bringing Topshop Topman to the capital feels like a perfect fit, and was naturally the next logical move for us after Auckland.
Getting the right site can be difficult – especially in a tight city like Wellington, so we had a huge challenge in getting the right location, but ended up in a prime position which we are very pleased with. Then turning the existing building into a Topshop Topman flagship store had plenty of challenges along the way, however when the scaffolding came down last week and revealed the amazing shop front – that was a really big “yeah!” moment.
Q.4 Auckland girls are quite polished whereas (ie NY) Wellington girls and guys have always been about Indie style, op shops and being out of the box. Do you see a connection between Wellington style aesthetic and The London Look?
There’s definitely a similarity in spirit between Wellington and East London sub-cultures. It’s an underground style confidence you don’t see as much in Auckland. TOPSHOP and TOPMAN are brands that allow people to express themselves – they don’t say “dress like this” or “dress like that” but rather they provide options for people to create. We believe the brands will find many new fans in Wellington.
Q.5 I know you've worked with Craigy Lee at Union Tattoo, a former interviewee of my blog who I am collaborating with soon too. Can you explain how that came about and why you wanted to collaborate with small Wellington businesses?
Wellingtonians are parochial and deeply passionate about all things Wellington, and we wanted to have an approach that connected with the local community as opposed to trying to take over. We have connected with a number of local businesses to collaborate with us to celebrate the launch of Topshop Topman in Wellington. With the Craigy Lee collaboration, Topman love to do things a little gritty and underground, and the idea of connecting with a local icon like Craig, and then incorporating his designs onto custom badging for denim was a perfect fit. We have also hooked up with Sweet Treats Bakery who are doing our opening party treats!
Q. 6 What will Wellingtonians love about the new Topshop Wellington store?
The space is amazing, and the latest iteration of store design with some super cool features such as LED ceiling panels, personal stylist rooms and more will be fantastic to experience. It is a really large space with Topshop over 2 levels and a huge range of product including full fashion collections, shoes, accessories and concessions by Calvin Klein and Havaiana’s. The guys can find a huge range of Topman suits, denim, leisure as well as the Havaiana and Calvin Klein concessions.
Q. 7 How will seasons work at Topshop Wellington?
I work closely with the UK Buyers and Merchandisers to curate the best styles for our market. A large part of our offering is designed specifically for the Southern Hemisphere so we’re always seasonally appropriate. The rest is made up of styles you’d see in the UK at the same time, there’s no delay or old season styles when it come to the NZ stores. What’s really exciting is that we receive weekly deliveries from the UK so there are new, fresh styles going out on the floor each day in both our stores.
Q. 8 Give is some outfit suggestions for a Wellington lass like myself going to head out for dinner and a gig with Friends on a Friday on Cuba Street.
I would suggest something fun but comfortable like our embroidered Mom jean paired with a shirt or roll-neck and heeled mules.