After three years and 14 collections, Kate Moss for Topshop will cease to exist as a regular line in October. It doesn't take an apparel mastermind to connect flagging sales to a contract not renewed.
Earlier this year, Topshop cut the frequency of Kate Moss's collections from six per year to just two; one source says, "that is when it started to falter." Women's Wear Daily is reporting that the retailer intends to release a handful of "Kate Moss" garments periodically thereafter, but the line is essentially dunzo.
Here are the reasons we reckon the contract was not renewed:
- For one thing, Kate Moss for Topshop was never really that great. Kate Moss has undeniable personal style, but she's not a designer. Her Topshop collection largely amounted to items from her own closet which she arranged to have copied. Creating and sustaining consumer excitement about what amounts to yet another seasonal delivery of knock-offs is a drag. Additionally, Moss herself seemed at times uninterested in her line, preferring to wear the originals than the copies (outside of occasional promotional events). The parting statement hinted ominously at the "time, real time" it takes to midwife each collection, and mentioned Moss's many "other commitments."
- The prices were also all wrong. Half the garments looked like cheaply mass-produced versions of the kinds of beautiful and unique things that could be had for a fraction of the price with a bit of digging at the Salvation Army; the other hand looked trendy to the point of disposable. So why the $90 technicolor dream pants and $250 sequined jumpsuits?
- Although Philip Green, Topshop's owner, is officially denying it, there are reports that the line was faring poorly in terms of sales. The Kate Moss collaboration was launched in 2007, near the peak of what proved to be a debt-fueled bubble of consumer demand for fashion. As was typical in those high-rolling days, the first collections sold out almost instantly. But the picture must be markedly different in today's utterly changed retail landscape. Topshop doesn't break out sales figures for its sub-brands, so it's impossible to know for sure, but why would Topshop have allowed Kate Moss's contract to expire if her line was doing anything close to those numbers today?
- For these and so many other reasons, a lot of celebrity-driven brands have closed during this economic downturn, including Jennifer Lopez's, Lauren Conrad's, and — perhaps the most direct corollary to Moss — fellow model Erin Wasson's collection for RVCA, which was wrapped up even before Wasson's contract with the brand had reached its end date. A celebrity name brings buzz, but the lesson here may be that a celebrity line won't be competitive over the long term unless it is — gasp — actually good. Especially when that celebrity is disinterestedly flogging overpriced party dresses in an economy where, for many, buying clothes at all still feels like a huge indulgence. Perhaps what we are witnessing is merely the inevitable bursting of the celebrity fashion line bubble.