Why look forward when you can look backwards? For a generation inflicted with feverish nostalgia - see style-conscious nu lads obsessing over retro sportswear - Topman's tribute to Northern Soul and the style of the sixties was perfect. It's the new copying. We've all forgiven and got used to high street stores ripping off high fashion, so it's natural that the notion of packaging up and profiting from a subculture (something fashion's done for years) while also taking the effort out of hunting for vintage gems and authentic remnants of a cultural movement has become accepted and embraced. Even mass-selling sportswear brands weren't free from the prying eyes of the Topman design team - stripes, stickers and emblems all riffed on sports classics. Topman have made Northern Soul peppy and cheerful - easier to access and easier to swallow.
Fashion has long been obsessed with the North - not so much the genuine cultural output of those living up there but clichéd depictions of scally lads hanging out in chip shops and fit girls smoking near sheds. Those emblems, however tired, made for a collection that was readable, and instantly gratifying - and that's what men go to Topman for. Their shopper isn't too fussed about appropriation or the authenticity and origins of their clothing, but want to pack a punch on Instagram or at the latest gourmet burger joint or cereal cafe. They live for the weekend in a different way to those original Norther revellers - they're used to things immediate, sanitised and pre-packaged. They'll love the jackets with the sewn on badges, despite the fact the logos and images stand for nothing. Indeed, there's a certain irony to seeing the safe-playing Topman shoppers wearing a a top reading 'Let's Riot' or some bright football casuals. Similarly you'd likely get beaten up if you went anywhere near the Twisted Wheel or Chateau Impney in a wife beater reading 'Danz like you're Northern.'
The moddish formality that underpinned the early Northern Soul movement was also present. That's where the collection was strongest - tailoring shapes felt current despite their nostalgia. Those wide legged trousers, worn with matchy-matchy cropped jackets, drew approving nods. All in all, the models couldn't pass for the real thing, but looked good despite it. They walked the walk even if they probably couldn't dance the dance.