#1589 Can New Zealand sustain a Topman?

Photos: supplied

The whole country was excited the day that Topshop came to town. The night of the launch, Topshop opening in The Department Store made the 6:00pm news on both channels. Topshop’s arrival appeared in the newspapers, on every online media source, was blared from the radio stations and proclaimed by anyone else with a captive audience. It was big news. Why? Good question. Was it because for the first time, we New Zealanders were able to buy fast fashion? Well, no, we sort of have our own versions (Glassons, Hallensteins, Barkers, MAX etc), plus if we were extra-eager we could always buy online. Was it because Topshop comes from London and has that exotic appeal? Perhaps. Was it because Topshop is widely regarded as one of the world’s best one stop shops for fast fashion? Certainly. But was it really that newsworthy? Another good question. One thing was certain: an enormous PR coup was pulled off that day.

Since Topshop’s launch, I’ve been over to The Department Store about three times to check out the offering. When Topman arrived and the Men’s Department area opened up, I went again. I scanned the racks, tried on a couple of shirts and walked out with some socks (that Katherine paid for using a voucher).

My thoughts were the same as they’ve been every time I’ve set foot in a Topshop store, and I’ve done so in three different cities – Dublin, London and New York: the clothes are cheap, colourful, overdesigned and altogether too young for somebody of my age. The denim shirts had those elbow tabs to keep the sleeves rolled up, blazers had extra flaps of fabric hanging off the shoulders, as did my favourite piece – a quite beautiful, but overworked 100% wool navy duffel coat.

The latest email-out just landed in my inbox overnight with all the new Topman products arriving into store this week. Of the 47 new entries, there were two pieces that I might buy, both shown above – a blue knitted bowtie and a grey backpack.

I think if you’re a young dude (21 or under) looking for some fun, ontrend clothes, Topman is the place to go. If you’re an older guy looking for something a little more classic, stick with what you know, because, let’s face it – drop-crotch khaki pants probably aren’t for you.

It’ll be interesting to track Topman’s progress. Men are well-known to shop as little as they can get away with, particularly in a country like New Zealand. We haven’t had as ready access to fast fashion chains that rotate their entire offering on a near weekly basis like Topshop does. Your average male consumer will typically buy all his yearly clothing needs in one fell swoop. So whether or not Auckland has a large enough menswear buying population to sustain Topman remains to be seen.

But if you’re a teenage boy with an interest in fashion, Topman will have everything you could possibly need.


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  1. says

    Topman rocks full stop but Im not happy that its come to our shores. Its a real treat to shop in their stores and received that package of clothes that you bought with careful consideration online and lets face it, by the time you pay the import tax that will be put onto the rrp it probably cheaper to buy from the UK and pay the postage!

  2. anon says

    Theres no reason Auckland couldn’t sustain a Topshop/Topman. The unfortunate reality is though outside of their key stores in the UK (central London, Manchester, Glasgow) they offer a very small range of for discussions sake I’ll call fashion pieces that (as a guy) anyone reading this would be interested in.

    Outside of the UK, Turkey, Spain etc. it’s worst still and definitely appears to be more mass focussed. I’m only qualifying this with my own taste and that I’ll more often than not check out a Topman if I’m walking past one. H&M seems to be a bit better at this but has its exceptions too.

  3. oldgirl says

    it is always good to check Top Shop on line for men and women, they put things on sale really fast, so worth waiting, if you buy on line here in 5 days… I do agree with you about the make and fabric, have to be careful, good throw away clothes at the end of season if they last that long.

  4. Bennyalvaraz says

    Bummer you were not included amongst the other men in the ‘craftsmen’ section of Department Store newspaper.
    I guess you have a very long way to go before you can rub pages with notable Journalists like Tim Blanks from Style.com, who was included.

  5. Nick says

    Personally I loved Topman when I was there last weekend. I’m 28 (I don’t know how old you are Isaac but you look about my age) but I think there are heaps of pieces there that would appeal to guys like me and a bit older too. It’s definitely not for teenagers.

  6. Lizzy says

    re: ‘The denim shirts had those elbow tabs to keep the sleeves rolled up’
    Issac, thats based on a very classic American Workwear style. Thats not overdesign, that’s merely a feature, as is a Classic American Button down collar on a shirt.

  7. james says

    Can you explain to us how you can have an Independent voice as a Journalist when you have your collaboration and business relationship with Barkers Isaac?

  8. isaaclikes says

    Hi James,

    The fact that I have a collaboration with Barkers wouldn’t stop me from reporting news about them if there was something to report.

    This story (http://www.isaaclikes.com/2010/04/1186-directors-play-musical-chairs-at.html) for example, was written several months after the collaboration with Barkers was finalised.

    I also have a business relationship with any company that advertises with me, as does any magazine or newspaper. I also have a business relationship with magazines and newspapers such as the NZ Herald, and that wouldn’t stop me from writing about them if it was required.

    I’m not going to say I’m always objective, because this is my blog – it’s Isaac Likes – obviously there are things I feel strongly about or not so strongly about. But in my opinion, independent reporting is all about staying honest.

  9. james says

    So given the fact that you are collaborating with Barkers, does it mean that at that point of time when you began your business relationship with them, you would you have still posted a negative review of their offering if you didn’t like some of their stuff.
    Or is it clear that by the fact we have never heard a negative review of their clothes you obviously love and have loved everything that Barkers do for mens fashion? If not I would love to hear your critique in your philosophy ‘Independent reporting and staying honest.’

  10. Kate says

    how old are you? you look really old, but i saw that photo from movember and you dont appear to have reached puberty……..s0 confused

  11. chewy says

    “I’m 28 (I don’t know how old you are Isaac but you look about my age)”



    The only thing i’m interested in from Topshop are socks.

  12. Nick says

    Urban Outfitters are seriously all over Topshop…….I agree Topshop is aimed at the under 21 market. But the quality of Topshop’s garments have definitely cheapened over the years. As a 30 year old who’s just returned from visiting Topshop stores in the UK I think Urban Outtfitters caters to a much larger age group, and offers a better quality garment and generally better fashion sense. On visiting a number well recognised high street stores: Zara, River Island, H&M, I found myself extremely disappointed that all of these stores over stocked in the same or similar garments and offered no real variety, just copy shop stores.

  13. Harriet Were says

    I don’t like Topshop or Topman. I don’t like any of those big chain shops. They brainwash you and you lose your sense of style. I can’t move when I walk into them and I don’t understand why you’d want to buy and wear the things that millions of others buy and wear…

    There is nothing worse than a group of friends that all dress the same.

    Keep Topman in London, buy NZ designs or teenage boys save your money and buy a piece you’ll keep forever.
    Think of it as like an art piece.

  14. Rebeccah says

    Did you read Isaac’s post on PR? As his sister I know of times when Isaac’s had stories which will negatively impact on his friends’/acquaintances’ lines of work. They’ve done everything in their power to stop him from breaking stories. Sometimes friendship has won over, sometimes the story is too big, and at the end of the day, everything comes out in the press one way or another. When it comes to a good story, I think you’ll find Isaac will break the news and deal with the consequences, regardless of collaborations etc. He has often asked the question how can any media reporting be unbiased. I think you should appreciate that he even thinks along those lines. Why else do you read his blog?

  15. SB says

    Touché – just visted Topshop in NYC this month (not the first time either) – didnt buy a thing, it is 100% cheap looking and bad quality and the items all have a little too much going on.

  16. Jimmy says

    there is always something bad to pick on with any store/brand if you really wanted to. its isaac likes not isaac hates.

  17. Tebby says

    Isaac, I work for Topman in London and while that is obviously your opinion on their clothes, let me tell you about how many men over 21 come into our store. Affordable (albeit mainstream) suits are something that most men on a budget want, along with plain knitwear,tee’s and basic jeans for about $5o NZD.
    Perhaps whoever is in charge of Topman buying for NZ simply hasn’t made the best choices??

  18. Rebeccah says

    Seriously Stefan, what is wrong with you?
    Stop reading the blog if it offends you so much. Why not put a photo of yourself up so people can choose to tear your style apart? Stick to reading ‘pure’ journalism and writing vicious letters to the editor.

  19. As You Were says

    Hands down the best thing I bought from Topman Oxford Street 3 days ago was the 100 pound black skinny suit. Amazing fitting jacket and pants straight off the shelf. Have not been to Topman department store yet but I hope they start offering this soon, then more young people might embrace wearing a suit out…

  20. Smantha says

    You sound so defensive. This is obviously a vehicle for Isaac to voice his opinion , and by voicing his opinion on Topman and it’s relevance to over 21 year old men, I’m sure any of those over 21 year old men who enjoy and read his blog, who wear Topman are entitled to feel a bit patronised for their apparent lack of taste as judged by Isaac. It goes both ways.

    Valery Gherman

  21. isaaclikes says

    I’m surprised that this has all gotten so heated.

    Like I said, “I think if you’re a young dude (21 or under) looking for some fun, ontrend clothes, Topman is the place to go. If you’re an older guy looking for something a little more classic, stick with what you know.”

    This is not to say that over 21 year olds can’t buy Topman – I’ve bought Topman before myself.

    I might be wrong – and bear in mind that this is, like Valery said, my opinion, but Topman does look to me to be aimed at younger guys.

    I personally prefer more classic clothes without so many fussy details, and let’s face it, I’m probably not going to find those at any chain store. So Topman is probably not my kind of shop.

    But please do not say or think that I’m judging over 21 year old guys for wearing Topman or that I think they have a lack of taste if they wear Topman.

    Can’t we all just get along?

  22. stefan says

    “Well, no, we sort of have our own versions (Glassons, Hallensteins, Barkers, MAX etc)” – Seriously dude? Topshop/Topman don’t even begin to compare to gay Glassons and Hideous Hallensteins what a rediculous comparison.

    “If you’re an older guy looking for something a little more classic, stick with what you know, because, let’s face it – drop-crotch khaki pants probably aren’t for you.”
    – I’m guessing you mean stick with Hallensteins, Barkers and a pair of beige chinos. I guess if men in New Zealand are happy with looking the same they did 15 years ago go for it! Fingers crossed Hallensteins bring back their Planet 8 range. And when I went into Topman, I saw several chinos that are very similar to what you wear… so….?

    “But if you’re a teenage boy with an interest in fashion, Topman will have everything you could possibly need.” – As far as I know, the average teenage boy doesn’t even know what Topman is and is more likely to purchase Lower, RPM, etc. Topman’s demographic doesn’t really cater to the average NZ teenage boy – it doesn’t take a fashion guru or wannabe journalist to see that.

    Just as well you don’t claim to be a journalist – and I would never listen to the advice of a person who is just venturing out of their chuck taylor faze.

  23. DEAN M says

    Hey Isaac I can’t help but think this post and your remarks about Topman have a lot to do with your recent collaboration with Barkers. Is that alignment a true indication of your taste in fashion? If so, I don’t think you’re truly in a position to say anything about any label at all. Also, is it true that you’re on the payroll of Crane Brothers, Little Brother and Working Style? I think in the interests of full disclosure you should tell your readers that you are, so they know what is fueling these menswear posts.

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