• Text Elizabeth Coop
  • 18th September 2016

Material girl

The runway was once a space for the future, exclusively; a place to showcase what we’ll be wearing next, not what we should be wearing now, giving access to limited few within a culture of exclusivity and anticipation. Then the internet happened, giving unprecedented access to every aspect of a designers work.

This week at Topshop Unique we saw the flow-on effect: a consumer-driven approach to the runway show. They pledged they would make the retail space wholly translatable via runway, with a campaign they coined ‘Retail-to-Runway’, and that they did. Showing at East London’s Old Spitalfields Market, they became the latest in a growing number of brands (from Burberry to Moschino and Tommy Hilfiger) to make small runs of items available post-show – instead of the usual months down the line.

The work of visual artist Linda Sterling was central to the collection. Best known for her subversive collages that make explicit reference to the female form, Sterling’s use of colour and tight-knot cut gave the clothes direction. Lingerie-inspired night dresses, oversized western and utility shirts tied low at the waist were other key pieces. But the attention-grabbing element was that all could be bought immediately after the show had finished, directly from Topshop’s capsule collection space and UK flagships. With pieces from the collection already selling out online, it’s clear Topshop has found a bold – and workable – new approach.