The annual Fashion’s Night Out once again made it to Chicago. For those who’ve not been, FNO is Anna Wintour, infamous editor of Vogue Magazine’s contribution to retailers and fashionistas globally. The night takes place around the world in cities that are within the Vogue subscription foot print. While Chicago’s FNO cannot be compared with that of New York’s, I was pleasantly surprised while attending last year’s FNO. Chicago MIGS and IGS flocked to the streets – weeknight-be-damned to shop, shop and shop some more. DJs rocked Nordstrom’s and every store on Michigan Avenue was alive with registers ringing, fitting room doors swinging and giddy store managers loving the business. I was excited to see what 2011’s FNO for Chicago would bring and made note to hit Nordies again, the Shops at 900 North and of course, the pièce de résistanceof FNO Chicago – the newly opened Top Shop.
Being a fan of London-based retailers in general, I’ve loved that Chicago has welcomed the likes of Karen Millen, All Saints and Ted Baker. The two former of which have been packed to the gills each time I venture in. I was gleefully excited to make my first domestic Top Shop purchase, remembering the adorable cream and sequin frock that stole my heart in London’s Top Shop in November of last year. Or the fabulous scoop neck cotton and leather dress that my friend purchased (it had been available both in real leather and in pleather for 75 quid less- AMAZING!!!!). I was ready to let loose on opening night.
Approaching, my excitement intensified. What would I buy? Ignoring the heed of caution from my most stylish friend Mercedes, “Jen, it’s not like the one in London, I’ve been to the TS New York and it’s totally different” she warned. I continued my excitement.
I gazed at the windows facing out to Michigan Avenue in starry eyed awe. Lucky not to be hit by a car as I crossed the street ala It Happened One Night, I was looking up and ogling at the blazing Top Shop sign.
As I crossed the threshold, I clutched at my purse, credit card ready to be swiped. And then I looked at the options for purchase and saw them:
That’s right, kitten sweaters. And dog sweaters too. No one item epitomizes the lack of style, the ultimate in Midwest fashion failures than the infamous sweater with animal picture on it. But what did I find upon my entry into the new Top Shop but a huge variety of just that. In fact, an entire section of the main floor seemed to be devoted to them. Dog eyes peered at me from cheap “made in China” tops. Cat faces pounced making my Top Shop dream a nightmare.
Suddenly my eyes saw everything in a new light. Knowing that this retailer was trying to pass off dog sweaters for $86, I suddenly had a whole new and disturbing perspective. I noticed a red and black three quarter length sleeve mini dress but now all I saw was its lack of any lining, cheap material and once again, made-in-China label. The discomfort I had over seeing these horrible sweaters was making me question everything. It’s not that I have a problem with disposable clothing and of-the-minute, off the runway low cost attire. I love mixing designer with pieces from Forever 21, H&M or Zara. But what runways had kitten sweaters shown up on? The bad taste in selecting these items had completely knocked askew the halo I held over Top Shop.
How could Top Shop try to sell us Chicagoans this disgraceful clothing in the name of fashion? I felt stereotyped, homogenized. Had the market researchers informed the buyers that this was what Midwesterners wanted? Would these dog and cat atrocities have been merchandised at a Top Shop opening in Milan or Paris? I think not.
Given that I will not even allow my 5 year old to wear dogs and cats on her chest, I hope the day does not come where I pass the woman on the street that actually purchased one of these disturbing dare-I-call-it-garments.
I left the store, deflated. No purchase made. Feeling demoralized.
I texted Mercedes. <topshop. Underwhelming>. I wrote.
<ewwww> she wrote back.
Top Shop buyers, Chicago deserves, expects and dresses better than kitten and doggie sweaters. Let’s try again and please treat us equally as our EU counterparts.
And girls, if you purchased one of those fugly shirts, let’s put it in the kennel where it belongs and start over. Shall we?
Tags: All Saints, anna wintour, City MIG Society, city moms, city people, fashion's night out, fashion's night out chicago, forever 21, h&m, it girls, Karen Millen, mercedes, mom it girl, Nordstrom, Shops at 900 North, stylish moms, Ted Baker, top shop, top shop chicago, zara