According to Mintel (August 2003), UK consumers keep on spending on clothes, even when they are cutting back in other areas, with total consumer expenditure on clothing in the UK reaching £34,825 million in 2002 - a 25.3% increase compared to 1998. This exceeds the growth of total consumer expenditure in the UK over the same period. Although the rate of year-on-year sales growth slowed slightly in 2003 as the consumer boom of 2000 and 2001 cooled, the slowdown in fashion retailing has not been as abrupt as some observers predicted.
Specialist clothing retailers, such as Topshop, Next and GAP, account for the biggest share of spend, attracting between 68%-71% of all consumer expenditure on clothing during 2002. Department stores, sports goods retailers and mail order houses also vie for a share of shoppers' wallets but these are not so well positioned as some of the specialists to respond quickly to emerging fashion trends.
This is where retailers like Topshop, H&M, New Look and Zara have carved a reputation, with their ability to pre-empt latest catwalk styles at affordable prices and with the shortest possible lead times.
Topshop has undergone a remarkable transformation since the mid 1990s, changing from a down market outfitter for the nation's teenagers to a seriously cool, trend-setting brand. Its success has made Topshop a retail phenomenon on the high street, enjoying a huge growth in sales profits and carving out a distinctive personality with an individual brand mix.
It continues to headline in nearly every fashion title and broadsheet, establishing a reputation for bringing innovation and style to the high street. While many other retailers belatedly copy the latest look, Topshop frequently sets the agenda. Topshop has received numerous accolades in recent years - style bible 'The Face' called Topshop "a dream factory that initiates and innovates, and creates its own fashion", while i-D said: "Can Topshop do no wrong?"
The Telegraph declared: "Blink and you'll miss it...with 300 new designs every week, Topshop, once famously naff, is now just as famously cool." Topshop has become a multi-award winning brand, attracting numerous industry gongs.
They include being nominated as a 'Cool BrandLeader' in 2002 and 2001 to 'The most glamorous place to shop on the High Street' from Glamour and a 'Best Stores in the World 2003' Award from The Face. Timeout shopping awards 2002 awarded Topshop with the 'Best Womenswear Award' and In-Style 2003 awarded the 'Best Vintage award'.
The driving force behind the transformation of Topshop is Brand Director Jane Shepherdson and her team, who has been rated as one of the fashion industry's most influential figures. Along with her team of buyers and designers, gut instincts are followed to introduce elements that they feel are right for the brand. This is a concept that is obviously paying dividends - with 295 stores in the UK and a further 62 international stores.
Although Topshop itself was launched in 1964, its parent company, The Arcadia Group, dates back to 1900 when Montague Burton launched it with an investment of £100. Initially the menswear chain Burton was the company's principal brand, but the launch of Topshop in the 1960s took the Group into the women's fashion market. It was a small start, with Topshop initially only having space in a Sheffield department store called Peter Robinson.
A year later, the same store allocated Topshop space in the basement of its Oxford Circus store in London. In 1974,Topshop was taken out of Peter Robinson and set up as a standalone retailer, catering for 13-25 year-olds. In 1978, a boys' and young men's version, Topman, was introduced and in 1982,Top Girl, for 9-14 year-olds. In 1992 Topman and Topshop combined forces at 214 Oxford Circus to create the world's largest fashion store. In 1996, the shift in external opinion of the brand began when Vogue voted the...