Monday, 9 November 2009

Time out for Topman

"Model?" says the girl behind me raising a dubious eyebrow. "Oh no, definitely not, I hear there's free booze though." I stand in the queue, it's surprisingly long for a Wednesday. For a Wednesday? What does that mean? Maybe my brain has been programmed to believe that all Wednesday nights means Football at the pub. Well, not tonight. I raise a faint smile - Did she say "free booze?" I try to remain alert outside Oxford Circus at 7pm. It's dark, it's incredibly cold but as I finally make it up the escalators, it starts to make sense. This could be an X Factor audition.

The premise couldn't be simpler. A party held in Topman’s flagship store in Oxford Circus. Oh Top man, the mother of men’s fashion that is synonymous with successful branding in a nationwide 21st century fashion market. Just ask the cast of Hollyoaks.

Tonight, Top man have put a unique selection of new and limited edition clothes. Add a limited audience, some freebies, Time Out memorabilia, Rough Trade DJ's and free alcohol what you get is, a sort of shop/pub/ lock in… Cool kids vying to be seen, heard and let’s face it, get drunk. As I enter the second floor, with my camera clutched tightly, I start to recall my objective - Take as much new menswear as you can, document what's new, cool, super trendy, think..Tuborg? It's free? I take a bottle. Swiftly followed by another four.

If you haven't realized, winter's here, so I start to concentrate on the things that really matter. I started with Footwear.   When did I start thinking it was a good idea to wear plimsolls all year round anyway? Few sights are less appealing that a bloke in torrential rain in a pair of sodden pumps or half dead trainers, no matter how 'rare' they are.  A good welted shoe is the perfect accompaniment for any sort of denim. And my god, designer brand Hudson has an impeccable collection that has made Top man the standard bearers of men’s footwear. All boots here are intricately finished and distinctively textured - Extremely practical for the winter months. But it's the brown suede boots that really catch my eye - These are more rough and ready than spit and polish (Hudson have cleverly treated them to keep the shine off) - Altogether, a winning return to solidity in the shoe department. Real lads should use shoes for just about anything - prissy pumps don’t cut it. All hail shoes of substance.

When my geography teacher, Mr Aldis donned one in 1994, the baggy cardigan became expressive of middle age and MOR conservatism. I made an oath never to own one. (but then again I was eleven and my most prized item of clothing was an eclipse bomber jacket)

Low and behold, the cardigan is now infallibly cool. Topman's very own, blue and green designs are suitably chunky with an attachable thick scarf. And it works very well. This much maligned garment has a flattering design and is becoming repositioned as statement menswear. Think classic Steve Mc Queen, modern Jude Law, even gangly Mr Aldis, these newly designed cardigans are must haves for those crisp winter days.

And so we cross over to Topman’s for your eyes only newbie collection; Tweed like the cardigans, the collection has taken on a rather cool edge. Topman Tweed jackets are having a moment. Outcome the connotations of posh farmers, Jack Tweed and weirdo’s (same thing) IN comes the notion of the assured, confident male. Admittedly, I’ve always had a guilty pleasure for Tweed; like brut aqua tonic it's overbearing but that doesn’t stop you from wanting it. Topman’s collection is reassuringly warm, smart and authentic. Gents - Cash in; Tweed could be the indispensable weapon in menswear’s winter armoury - Go mad for it. Hey, I'll even buy you a pint.

The evening concludes with the clothes that should really make a stand this Winter. Burberry's signature piece has always been the trench coat. Topman have a trench coat that not only keeps its authenticity but is an investment piece that only gets better with age. A timeless classic for £75, the price is truly head and shoulders above any other retailer.

Slim denim shirts are also making head waves. Ladies are said to love a man in a good shirt (by and large this affection does not always extend to the Crystal Palace home shirt or a Peter Andre style vest..) and men now seem to like denim shirts just as much. Topman's new design cleverly incorporates the classic denim shirt with a corduroy collar. Incongruous you say? Just try it, you'll know what I mean. Smashing stuff.

But I must confess. Topman's inventory is simply huge. It becomes apparent that a lot of the menswear here is just too easy to forget. Why? Because of practicality. A return to perennials in Topman's catalogue can only be seen as a sensible response to recessionary times. Don’t get me wrong, the gems which I’ve highlighted only reinforce this notion but the overwhelming force to compromise on fodder which makes us replace that jacket, with another… and another. Gents, we can avoid this- If we can assess the long term gains.

Well done Topman. You've done your homework. Dapper chap approves.  Practical and cool, what’s not to love? Now, let’s hope John and Edward ruin all your efforts by donning the range this Saturday…

Dapper Chap is a 26 year old actor with a keen eye for a bargain buy, otherwise known as Simon. Often be found bouncing up and down to a nostalgic hit from the 90’s at somewhere suitably indie, he also loves Hitch (apparently Will Smith is a genius) and swears by Barbour Jackets (trendy but practical, whats not to love?)

His hometown is South East London as it’s “incredibly creative without being incredibly pretentious” and when he’s not acting, dancing or sniffing out his latest investment buy he can often be found chowing down in his local pie and mash shop.


  1. free booze = yes please lol xoxoxox

  2. Topman has certainly improved in the last six months- lets hope for more!

    I think you would enjoy my blog, menswear,womenswear art and design xxx