The story of how a huge fashion brand fell dramatically to earth is the subject of a new two-part OU/BBC co–production.
Through the testimony of insiders as well as fashion and investigative journalists, Trouble at Topshop explores how the brand is transformed by a group of young, talented, and creative women, into a mecca for everyone who loves fashion.
The story then culminates in its spectacular crash under the stewardship of controversial entrepreneur Sir Philip Green.
The two-part series begins on Monday, 26 September, at 9pm on BBC Two, with the second episode airing a week later at the same time.
In episode one, under the leadership of brand director Jane Shepherdson, Topshop is making a name for itself as a place where celebrities and models brush shoulders with school kids – all in search of the brand’s cool and cutting-edge fashion.
In an industry traditionally dominated by men, Topshop is doing something different: women are creating desirable and affordable clothes for women. But all that is about to change when Sir Philip takes over and the stage is set for a battle for the soul of Topshop.
In episode two, scandals, competition from rival brands and online, and a changing customer base are too much for Topshop. When the global pandemic hits, it has nothing to fall back on.
The fashion retailer that had revolutionised and defined women’s fashion for a generation, is now gone from our high streets and Sir Philip Green, once a dominant force in British retail, is no longer its king.
The OU’s academic consultants to the programme are Dr Nela Smolovic Jones and Dr Yue Meng-Lewis. Dr Meng-Lewis, who is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Digital Marketing at The Open University Business School said the programme illustrates the different approaches to building a brand and how an owner’s reputation can be crucial.
Working on the documentary was a really fascinating experience. It was extremely interesting to see the two totally different approaches to building a brand – the profit-driven business mindset with cost-cutting strategies etc vs. the passion and pursuit of one’s own dreams, and desire to do things right for the brand and the customers.
Consumers associate brands with their owners’ image. The business owner’s behaviour and reputation has a strong impact on how customers feel about the brand. This is clearly evident for Topshop. It is hence important for business owners to avoid harmful practices that negatively affect the company’s image.Dr Yue Meng-Lewis
Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing, OUBS
Visit our Broadcast & Partnerships site OU Connect where you can see exclusive additional interviews with ex-Topshop directors, and watch an exciting new OU animation exploring three key challenges facing the global fashion industry – plus, find out more about The Open University’s involvement in the series, and beyond.