U.K. Retailer Top Shop Comes To New York
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block. Despite the down economy, a global retailer opened its doors in the U.S. for the first time this week. The British based Top Shop welcomed customers in New York City's Soho district. Some predict the store and the way it does business are a sign of things to come. Reporter Kaomi Goetz has the story.
KAOMI GOETZ: Remember this British invasion?
(Soundbite of song, "Help")
Mr. JOHN LENNON (Lead Singer, The Beatles): (Singing) Help, I need somebody, help, not just anybody.
GOETZ: Now there is this one.
(Soundbite of people shouting)
GOETZ: Britain's Top Shop is open for business, glitter and fringe, skinny jeans, shiny colorful high heels, the clothes have a downtown appeal of London's street fashion. The store is collaborating with model Kate Moss for a popular fashion line. That's why Ivana Robles(ph) arrived at six in the morning to stand in chili temps. She flew in from Los Angeles just for the opening, and was first in line. She plans to max out her credit cards and spend a thousand dollars once she gets inside.
Ms. IVANA ROBLES: I'm a student, I'm a student, actually.
GOETZ: Can you afford these types of purchases?
Ms. ROBLES: Probably not, like basically - all I do is I live on like Ramen Noodle soup, but I shop.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Unidentified Woman: Ladies, put your hands together.
GOETZ: At 11:00, the doors open, and out steps the CEO of Top Shop and Kate Moss, who poses for a few minutes for rows of cameras just inside the doorway.
(Soundbite of music)
GOETZ: Top Shop isn't the only invader. Zara from Spain, H&M from Sweden all create buzz about their stores by constantly updating their mix. These European companies own most of their own factories and even fabric houses and that cuts out middlemen. This arrangement allows them to ship new products fast, usually every two weeks. Shoppers can expect new styles every time they go to the stores. Retail analyst Tom Julian says the recession is actually an opportunity.
Mr. TOM JULIAN (Retail Analyst): Oh yeah, a down economy could play very well for Top Shop. Given the exclusive products they offer, the pricing and the fashion element. You know, when you go in to Top Shop you will see a lot of different labels, but basically a lot of those labels are produced and created by their own company.
GOETZ: Julian says owning its own brands of distribution means Top Shop can undercut the competition, but that doesn't mean all American competitors are shaking in their gladiator sandals. Millard Drexler is CEO of J.Crew, the popular catalog and retail chain. Top Shop has just moved in next door to the company's Madewell store. Drexler says what's good for Top Shop will be good for the entire industry.
Mr. MILLARD DREXLER (CEO, J.Crew): To me it's always (unintelligible) trend there when it should happen very quick. I think it kind of raises the bar in America now to look at a new player who has come in and is showing us what can be done in a better way.
GOETZ: In fact, Drexler is sending his team over to Top Shop to study this formula from them. Ivana Robles(ph) is already favoring her friends' comments over her new Top Shop clothes.
Ms. ROBLES: When they see me wearing something, where did you get that? Oh, it's Top Shop, you know, I'm sorry, there's no more of it, so be jealous.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GOETZ: For now, Top Shop isn't making public any plans for other U.S. stores. So Robles' boasting days are far from over. For NPR News, I'm Kaomi Goetz.
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