It’s fifteen degrees outside and it’s the middle of winter. As if living in New Zealand wasn’t good already, my friend recently informed me there is a Topshop just ten minutes down the road. Why would one ever want to leave such a place!?
Said friend has a car so one, fine Saturday (did I mention the sun was shining again?) we set off towards Takapuna, where we would find Topshop, submerged like a hidden gem amidst the walls of a town-centre department store. The excitement almost got the better of me, what’s more, I’d just been paid and my credit card was yelping from inside my purse – begging to be abused once more.
Fortunately Google maps led the way. Personally, I felt my friend was walking too slowly, considering the delights that we had to look forward to and when the traffic lights stopped on the red man for, oh I don’t know, more than thirty-seconds, I nearly had a tantrum right there and then, on the curb.
Suddenly the department store came into view, just fifty more feet down the road. My heart sunk slightly, something didn’t feel right, I was overwhelmed by a sudden rush of foreboding but I pushed the negativity to the back of my head. It had been six months since I had set foot in Topshop, why should I be feeling so pessimistic about it?
As we entered the store and scavenged the insides for a sign directing us to heaven, my heart sank a little further. We were in one of those department stores. In fact branding it as a department store is probably considered an incredible insult – it was a ‘hipster mall’. The kind of place where only one jumper hangs on a suspended rail and there are vintage bikes covered in petals. There was a flower shop selling one, lone orchid and the coffee shop was actually a wooden cart, complete with wheels and hip baristas in cashmere jumpers and bow-ties, selling skinny lattes with a double shot of pretentious.
We made our way upstairs but I already knew I didn’t want to go. What would they have done to Topshop? Would I even recognise it as my favourite high-street store? The answer was a definite ‘no’. Except for the tell-tale Topshop logo, I found myself standing in a foreign land, void of Topshop charisma and coolness. I was standing in a charmless, top-floor boutique.
In total there were two clothes racks – one on the back wall and one adjacent. There can’t have been any more than fifty items of clothing, most of which were fun but inaccessible to the everyday shopper like me – this was Topshop catwalk and nothing more. The biggest insult was the bag collection. There wasn’t one. The shoes were kept to a minimum and the make-up, although appreciated, was wasting valuable space where a few more clothes could have been. It was half empty, void of character and totally uninspiring.
Topshop does of course have a boutique range, but for me, it’s so much more than just that – it’s the sweetshop of fashion stores where everyone’s tastes are accounted for and there’s so much choice, you go dizzy deciding what you want to try first. It offers both expensive clothing and cheap basics that get you through the seasons; it’s chic yet simple; fun but always on trend – sometimes it can be a smidge pretentious but it only ever titters on the cusp of irritating – this rendition of Topshop was so up itself, I felt unwelcome for not having wheeled in my sugar-daddy. How did they get it so overwhelmingly wrong?
The answer is actually very simple. Some things just don’t translate. Put 12,000 miles and several oceans in between two shops that by all means should look the same, feel the same and attract the same type of customer and you’ll be presented with an entirely different interpretation of the original. Sadly, Topshop has been lost in translation. Years ago, I was in France and attempted to ask for fresh milk – minutes later I was presented with a strawberry and this felt very much like the same scenario. Somewhere along the line, someone in the Topshop clan didn’t convey a message properly and just like Chinese whispers, Topshop, was sent from the UK to NZ and by the time it arrived, had been twisted into nothing more than a faint resemblance of its former self.
For – some those who have never experienced a Topshop origina – the boutique is probably perfectly pleasant and enjoyable, but for me, it was a huge disappointment. I asked to go home so I could sulk and later use Topshop’s online store to buy an excessive amount of garments to make myself better about the whole sordid affair. I can only hope future CEOs don’t attempt to bring over any more of my favourite high street stores – ruin my love affair with River Island shoes and I’ll conjure revenge on the same scale as a Kill Bill movie.