The Curated Store

Last Friday saw the latest incarnation of Topshop’s Edited space in Oxford Circus and Manchester. Susie Lau (AKA Bubble) is the latest ‘taste maker’ to select her pick of TopShop’s strongest pieces to sit in their own area of the store for time-poor, fashion-forward customers to snap up.

Following last month’s guest editor, Katie Shillingford, Susie’s picks included beaded collars, jacquard cigarette pants and a green and pink leopard print shift dress (also a favourite of Katie Shillingford’s). The beauty is in the merchandising. Signature Susie-isms – colour and pattern and texture clashing – represent an off-beat way of putting things together that is key in the concept of Topshop’s Edited space.

“It’s an extension of the philosophy of shopping at Topshop. Style it your own way, make it your own look,” explained Andrew Leahy, Topshop’s head of publicity. “It’s an easy way of communicating the best of the fashion forward pieces. By asking Susie to put her spin on our offer, it’s a way of repackaging the merchandise and it’s also our way of bringing new names to our customer. We’re using our influence to bring people forward who we work with and want to offer the customer.”

The curated store idea isn’t new but it’s gaining momentum at a time when bricks and mortar retail has increased competition from not only etail but so many other leisure activities. Katie Grand is a pioneer of the curated store,  using her immense influence to commission exclusive product from brands like Loewe and Barbie for pop-up shops in Dover Street Market . More recently, Lula magazine’s Leith Clark curated a similar space at Harvey Nichols and took the concept on to The Bay in Toronto. Manolo Blahnik did something similar at Liberty last year and Lady Gaga will do the same on a huge scale at Barneys from mid-November til January – a move that’s bound to create a satisfying stampede of footfall in the Madison Avenue store, not to mention plenty of brand buzz.

But when it comes to the high street, it’s a logical and cost effective move to use guest creatives to inject some pizzazz and personality into mass produced ranges. At H&M, Leigh Lezark has recently curated her favourite pieces for its new concession at Selfridges, tagged with special labels to highlight Lezark’s choices. There’s no need for quirky one-off pieces or entire guest ‘designed’ collections, a simple wish list and reconfiguration of the merchandise is enough for the customer to buy into the ‘curator’’s taste.

Back to Susie, her Topshop Edited space features fashion Q&As on the walls, her playlist pumped from speakers and a pile of must-read books on display. Online there are more Susie insights but I couldn’t help feeling I’d like to see a few more images of Susie wearing the clothes dotted among the actual product. Lulu Kennedy is Topshop’s next Edited curator, whose selection goes in store to coincide with London Fashion Week. Let’s see if they push the concept further.