How Topshop wields Kate Moss's appeal

Thursday, 01 May 2014
altOPINION_“Designer collaborations have become a dime a dozen these days,” pointed out Ashma Kunde, Apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor International, referring to the traffic-stopping crowds that flocked to Topshop's flagship store on Oxford Street, when Kate Moss presented her comeback collection.


“But they still give brands a significant amount of media buzz and a point of differentiation on the incredibly competitive British high street,” she added, as members of the press filled up the front rows during the models presentation on Tuesday night. Sir Philip Green, owner of Topshop, is thrilled with her comeback and reportedly told WWD this was “the best [collection] we've done yet. Anybody that's seen the clothes loves them.”

altHowever, it has become apparent that not everyone is in love with Moss's new designs. Back in 2007, the debut Kate Moss for Topshop collection drew hordes of hysterical fans, but her 15th collection has received a series of mixed reactions from UK shoppers on social media sites, ranging from “So uninspired looking at the Kate Moss collection for Topshop,” to “ I just went a bit stir crazy in Topshop for the new Kate Moss collection...a great collection.”

Kate Moss comeback collection for Topshop receives mixed feedback

Moss's SS'14 collection is said to be more “luxurious,” with the 40-piece range available in Topshop stores and stands in 40 countries, as well as online at Nordstorm.com and selected stores for the first time. For the debut global launch of the collection, Topshop also teamed up with luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter, who offered an exclusive hand-beaded mini dress, as well as an edited selection of the collection.

Although Kate Moss's collections for Topshop are known to have a high price point, the collection is her most expensive collection to date, with most pieces starting around the 85 pound price point. The model herself claims that she only wanted to create “statement” pieces for her fashion comeback, which is why the collection is more expensive than usual.

Some fashion critics were quick to point out the similarities between the model's previous collections and her latest launch. A 295 pound fluted silk-blend lamé dress looks remarkably similar to a beaded pleated silver dress from her fall 2010 collection, which retailed for 250 pounds, whilst a sequined dinner jacket which sold for 85 pounds seems to be a cheaper copy of its 2010 counterpart. This led to a series of complaints erupting on social media network sites.

“Kate Moss x Topshop collection was a disappointment, not to mention kinda expensive,” complained one disappointed fan known as Dana on Twitter. Another disillusioned shopper, Joanna, tweeted: “You have to be Kate Moss to afford the Kate Moss Topshop collection by the looks of it!”

Other critics have noted that the pieces are priced like mid-market designer label, but argue that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Although some younger shoppers may complain about the cost of the collection, Melanie Rickey wife of acclaimed retail consultant Mary Portas highlighted the appeal of the range to some of Topshop's older clientèle: “Topshop’s global customers are not all coltish teens browsing the rails with a toss toss of their hair, but grown-up women.”

According to recent data from Euromonitor International, these mature women, aged 35-49, were among the top earners in Western Europe in 2013 and keen to spend money on premium quality items. Therefore by partnering with Net-a-Porter, Topshop has paved the way for these professional, yet fashion-conscious women to access their collection, whilst tapping into a market of clientèle who may not normally shop at their stores.

“It definitely speaks to an older, wealthier demographic than Topshop’s core customer base,” added Kunde. “However, Kate Moss’s timeless beauty has universal appeal. Net-a-Porter have clearly taken pieces that would resonate well with their clientèle and incorporated it into their offering, by styling the garments with other high-end designer pieces available on Net-a-Porter, highlighting the trend for ‘high-low’ mixing. Unlike Topshop’s other designer collaborations (e.g. Meadham Kirchhoff, JW Anderson) Kate Moss is not a designer fashion label herself, so there is no potential conflict of interest by stocking this collection on the site.”

This was reflected in the speed at which the collection sold out at the luxury e-tailer; by 12 noon on Wednesday, more than half the collection was out of stock. Even the most expensive item of the collection, the 600 hundred pound exclusive to Net-a-Porter mini-dress, was among the first items to sell out. The need to purchase these not completely unique, but limited-edition pieces, can also be attributed to allure of Kate Moss herself.

"Kate "Kate Moss's timeless beauty" and "universal appeal" are the main sales drivers for the collection

“The adult population tends to idolize older, more enduring celebrities,” stated Euromonitor International in its latest report 'Celebrity Power and its influence on Consumer Behavior.' “Companies exploit the power of celebrities and employ them to advertise just about everything. Famous people are instantly recognizable and attract consumer interest, they can bring attention to a brand in a way no other type of advertising can.”

By using an iconic, yet 40 year old model, Topshop has created an hype-up appeal around her comeback collection, which draws in the young, budding fashionistas as well as the older fashion lovers. “The fact that she is still wanted on all the covers, all over the world, twenty years later, I think confirms, yes, she's a style icon. And therefore followed and regarded as to what she wears,” said Sir Philip Green, in a recent interview with BBC.

“I still think people want to buy things that are not everywhere,” added Sir Green, who believes that the limited edition aspect of the collection also acts an impulse to encourage women to purchase pieces from the collection. Topshop has yet to reveal if or when another Kate Moss x Topshop collection will launch, which undoubtedly has helped the sales of her comeback collection, with a number of the items finding their way on eBay for nearly double the price not long after they had sold out online.

“While the Kate Moss collaboration is a revival of a previous ongoing partnership, Topshop now has a much stronger international presence than it did in 2009. From New York to Hong Kong, Kate Moss’s appeal is widespread, giving the collection a broader consumer base,” conclude Kunde, adding that the collection relaunch also comes at pivotal point for the high street retailer. “Kate Moss may also be a better known brand name than some of the cutting-edge British labels Topshop has collaborated with.”

Photos: Kate Moss SS 14 collection for Topshop

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