As flip-flopping fashion labels go, Topman Design is often one of the most changeable. But that’s not necessarily a sign of weakness. After all, pleasing the masses of the high street is a numbers game that’s less about defining a monolithic identity than tapping into trends and giving the public what they want. All while keeping in mind the youth of the Topman customer, and the speed with which tastes can change when you’re still figuring out who you are and what you’re into.
And if you want speed, baby, Topman is the place to be. In the A/W 17 show, looks from the eighties, nineties and into the noughts were cycled through at rapid pace. New Romantic elements butted into the cobwebby, pierced knits of punk, quickly followed by the acid-spiked brights of rave - nodding at both original and nu variations thereof.
Going out was a big inspiration - from pub paraphernalia to slogans including 'whizz', 'rush' and 'speed'. Ostensibly borrowed from the fairground, whether you believe that origin story will depend on the degree to which you misspent your youth.
There was a distinct Britishness to the collection - though unlike last season’s seaside source material this was more about a seasoned traveller than any particular tribe, be they social or geographical.
The first half of the show was largely a sombre affair with waistcoats and jogging bottoms in pinstripe wool and Prince of Wales check, battered leather jackets and workwearish wool pieces, all of which were occasionally enlivened - a bright stripe here, an off colour floral there and a fringed lurex knit in between. Then things went all skater boy, with wide leg jeans, ponchos and psychedelic graphics.
But it was in the second half that the highlighter palette broke out, and the energy intensified. The day-glo shades and retro sporty aesthetic were a call back to the days of rave - with a patchwork of pink, orange, yellow and green that worked particularly well on outerwear. Jewellery by Husam El-Odeh brought together tiny trinkets on earrings and safety pin brooches, while the footwear resembled the knock off trainers you’d turn your nose up at if you found them on an early Nineties market stall, but somehow worked for 2017. Which just goes to show - Topman Design may have an eye fixed firmly on the past but it’s still striding into the future.