In the last 12 months, it seems the international fast fashion industry has taken notice of our little island at the bottom of the world. Openings of Gap, Zara and a dedicated Australian ASOS store have greatly broadened the offerings of trend-focused clothes that try not to break the bank. Thursday morning, the granddaddy of them all, Topshop – and its dapper sibling Topman – made its grand entrance into the Australian market with an expansive space in the former Borders on Chapel Street, South Yarra.
Overnight, a line of around 250 people gradually formed before the doors were flung open at 10am. The first 20 customers in line each received $100 gift cards and were let in to attempt to empty the racks. The festivities are set to continue all weekend with DJs, gift card giveaways every hour and the Topshop kombi zooming around the city.
The store itself, as would be familiar to anyone who has shopped at Topshop overseas, is big, bright and shiny. While not exactly a calming shopping experience, it certainly is exciting. The music is loud, helpful staff are everywhere and big neon signs direct you towards impressive shoe and accessories collections. Though certainly lacking the range of the massive flagship Oxford Circus and Broadway stores in London and New York, the clothes still impress. Pitching at a younger crowd than Zara, there are lots of short skirts, prints, leggings and trends ripped from international runways. Although there are many more jumpers than you’d expect for the first week of summer and the windows are distinctly wintery, there’s still much you can wear right now.
The back of the store houses the much less crowded Topman area, hosting a combination of classic basics and more trend-focused pieces. Melbourne is the third city (alongside London and New York) to offer a Personal Shopping service, tucked away in the corner for a little respite from the slightly chaotic scenes on the main floor.
Most impressive, however, are the prices. A major stumbling block for many an international behemoth launching in Australia, Topshop has managed to keep prices down in a way few big brands have previously. We’re talking denim from $60, formal dresses from $100 and heels at around the $150 mark.
Whether this will incite the apocalypse for the local retail scene (as some have argued) is still unclear. Topshop’s support for emerging designers, especially in the UK is legendary, and through collaborations with Kate Moss, Christopher Kane and our own Richard Nicoll among others, has brought awareness of young, talented designers (as well as filthy rich supermodels) to the masses. Whether we like it or not, fast fashion is here to stay and more accessible than ever.
The Jam Factory
500 Chapel Street, South Yarra
Mon-Thurs & Sat 10am-7pm
Sun 10am - 6pm