Topshop Takes Over The World, One Gladiator Sandal At A TimeS

Their generals? The elite team of "style advisors," many imported from the UK for extra coolness, who will literally dress you.

We've always been kind of fascinated by personal shoppers, and the Topshop team - who deal in the lexicon of high fashion and the budgets of fast fashion - are a particularly fascinating breed. Describes the Times,

The creative style of the sales staff helps to create that illusion.
..Requirements include an exuberant sense of personal style, the ability to size up customers and explain what styles would best fit their body types, a bubbly personality and, above all, an encyclopedic knowledge of what Nicole Richie, Peaches Geldof and Sarah Jessica Parker wore when last picking up coffee at Starbucks. To sell Topshop, they must encourage shoppers, usually during two-hour appointments that are booked weeks in advance, to try things they would never think of wearing.

The team seems to be super-qualified: the piece describes former stylists and design students, all, naturally, hip to the point of pain. It's obvious, from what the piece describes, that, by example, enthusiasm and sheer force of cool, they bear customers along with their confidence, making them believe that they are people who'd wear a lycra mini with a clown's ruff, neon chef's hat and polka-dot fanny pack. Having been prey to the lure of this phenom at "Topshop, Oxford Circus, Lon-Don" more than once, and suffered some serious buyer's remorse stateside, I was girded for my first trip to the New York flagship, dressed not only in a marginally absurd outfit myself (so as better to fly under the radar) but prepared to resist the peer pressure and help others do the same.

While my coonskin cap (vintage- from my brother's toy chest) and 70s artist smock elicited admiring comments from several employees, I quickly got on their bad side: not long after I'd entered, I saw a timid-looking girl, clearly from out of town, being pressured, I felt, into getting a strange dress. She looked uncomfortable, but a team of arch hipsters was assuring her of the look's awesomeness. I could see her doubt eroding under their persuasion: maybe she could be this person, she was thinking. Maybe this was the beginning of a new life. As a former retail professional, I felt it my duty to interject. "Here's what I like to ask myself," I said in a friendly fashion. "Can I picture this in my real life? Will I think about it if I don't buy it? After all, it's only a bargain if you wear it!" She, her mother, the hipster children stared at me blankly. Who is this stranger in a Davy Crockett hat and why is she talking to me? said the girl's eyes. A few minutes later, I saw her buying the dress. Clearly the magic had not extended to me.

Trust Me. You'll Look Cool in This
. [NYTimes]