The DRG retail index: Topshop, Benetton, H&M, Uniqlo

Here’s ALISON FARRINGTON’S latest monthly retail round up celebrating newness and innovation on the high street. Benetton is getting a reboot with a 90s nostalgia branding fest; Topshop is also dialling up a reboot for its Boutique collection; H&M’s latest Conscious Exclusive collection drops with new closed-loop fabrications and Uniqlo celebrates its LifeWear design principle with a Paris exhibition and pop-up

Topshop Boutique 2018


Topshop wants to put its premium Boutique line back on the shopping agenda for a new generation of customers that are probably more grown-up and discerning than the retail brand has been talking to in recent years. Boutique is now about a point of difference, global design director Anthony Cuthbertson told the Evening Standard: ‘We are creating perfect wardrobe staples for the contemporary woman,’ he says, adding that the brand will offer investment pieces that are built to last. We’ve clocked the classic belted trench (above, landing 13th October) and crop leather jacket with interest.


Benetton has re-issued a few of its classic sportswear pieces – think branded tees, joggers, bumbags – from the 80s and 90s with a nostalgic pop-up at Selfridges. As a major United Colours of Benetton fan in my teens and early 20s, this is a real blast from the past. And the timing feels right for a cult retro sportswear branding fest. (Now we just need NafNaf to dust off its archives for a WaveyGarms-style #BurBenNaf streetwear moment.) Meanwhile the original founders of Benetton are returning to oversee a brand overhaul. ‘We are restarting with a new team and a new product,’ Luciano Benetton, told the FT.


As fast-fashion retailers increasingly choose to slow down their manufacturing processes, it’s refreshing to see a major player such as Uniqlo embrace its heritage, while at the same time offer a lesson in life-time wardrobing.

If you were in Paris last week you may have caught the brand’s three-day exhibition, The Art and Science of Lifewear, that aimed to highlight Uniqlo’s textile and knitting technology, as well as showcase its sustainability-focused whole garment manufacturing process. Held at the Jeu de Paume museum, Uniqlo’s Lifewear expo featured a giant horizontal knitting machine, programmed like a 3D printer to produce knitwear out of one piece of yarn – therefore avoiding waste. I loved the mini-capsule collaboration with French knit designers Keur Paris – a pop-up exclusive for the Paris Fashion Week guests.


For its latest Conscious Exclusive premium collection offer, H&M has launched recycled cashmere (created from leftover yarn that has been re-spun) and velvet that was produced using recycled polyester sourced from old uniforms. These are just two of the closed-loop fabrication efforts that H&M says have come to fruition at a standard that enables production for slightly heavier materials for its first autumn/winter Conscious Exclusive range. It’s a shame H&M’s well-pitched transparency and traceability messaging translates to such a small production run for this line – many pieces were sold out within a couple of days. However, where H&M treads others will follow and continue to invest in growing the pool of closed-loop fabric innovations.


This column is contributed by DRG retail editor, ALISON FARRINGTON. Read her previous posts on Disneyrollergirl and discover more of her retail insights on her blog, The Retail Planner.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Alison Farrington
IMAGE: Topshop Boutique
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