Topshop is about to get even bigger.
The trendy store made headlines this week when it announced that its heavily-anticipated athleisure partnership with Beyoncé would hit stores in April, 2016.
This is huge for Topshop.
The retailer has solidified its reputation by collaborating with celebrities. TopShop has collaborated with Kate Moss, and recently, the brand launched a collaboration with none other than Kendall and Kylie Jenner. The collaboration, with prices from $85-$250, is what one might expect from a collaboration involving the provocative Jenner girls.
But the Jenner girls are polarising. Kate Moss has been subject to controversy and might not appeal to those who are not fashion industry zealots. But Beyonccé, arguably, has more mass appeal than any celebrity has.
Which is why this partnership could be a genius part of Topshop’s plans for continual — if slow — American expansion.
The retailer, which isa subsidiary of parent company Arcadia (which also houses its male counterpart, Topman), is owned by Sir Philip Greene. It has been around since the ’60s, is extremely popular in the United Kingdom, where, according to its website, it has 300 stores. And for the coming London Fashion Week, Topshop is sponsoring eight up-and-coming designers as they show off their latest collections, Fashionista reported.
But the brand is smaller in the United States, with just a few locations in select cities, despite devoted fans. There are two locations in New York City — one in the trendy Soho neighbourhood and one on Fifth Avenue, near Rockefeller Center.
Its growth might appear to be stunted compared to Zaral’s or H&M’s, but the brand has been smart about it. After all, Topshop is not Zara — and it’s certainly not H&M.
“Even if they haven’t grown as fast as they originally planned over here since they entered the market in 2009, Topshop has learned to use what they were already very good at to grow their US business: timely collaborations with relevant tastemakers, and being perceived as a step up from purely derivative fast fashion,” Gesina Gudehus-Witter, a consultant at Vivaldi Partners Group, wrote in an email to Business Insider.
“Even if the majority of their designs are clearly inspired by the high fashion runways, Topshop has managed to establish itself as an influencer brand in their own right to consumers, in sharp contrast to, for example, Zara, which is more clearly seen as directly translating designer collections to the high street. Topshop’s brand personality as a cool European influencer brand to fashion-conscious millennials is quite unique in the US market in fact, they are serving it up very well on social media, too, and it is tied to a much clearer style direction than those of Zara or H&M,” she added.
These distinctions have been both the brand’s blessing and its curse.
“Topshop’s decidedly fashion-forward positioning has also been a part of what has limited their growth here in the US,” Gudehus-Witter explained. “To truly appeal to a broad customer base here, fashion brands need to be more approachable here than in Europe, and Topshop has struggled with this in the past.”
But trying to appeal to too broad of a demographic would likely force the retailer to sacrifice its fashionable gravitas and unique characteristics. This is why its high-profile collaborations are central to the brand’s expansion, and why tapping Beyonccé for a partnership is a sign of potential growth.
“This is again where they can, and are, using their expertise in collaborations with the right influencers though,” Gudehus-Witter added. “Their recent announcement to collaborate with Beyonccé on an athleisure collection is the exact right step into the US mass market, tapping into the booming athleisure trend without compromising their key brand values. And their strong social media presence will certainly help this new move. “
That’s not to say the brand hasn’t already made strategic moves to help grow in the Untied States, Gudehus-Witter explained. “One could say they have used collaboration in other ways to break into the US market, too: growing their presence at first through concession brands at established US retailer Nordstrom, and recently selling 25% of their business to US private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners have both been strategic moves directly tied to their need to understand this market from an insider’s perspective to really conquer it. “
And it looks like it just might, in fact, be on the road to conquering the industry.
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