5 Questions for Topman’s Gordon Richardson

Topman wants to be top of mind with consumers.

Footwear is just a part of the retailer’s vast private-label offering. The U.K.-based men’s counterpart to Topshop each season unveils a full collection of men’s shoes, produced under license. For fall, the line features a mix of shoes and boots, though the shoes have sold better over the last season, said Topman design director Gordon Richardson, in New York.

“I call them traditional shoes with a twist,” he said. “[They span] from simple brogues to heavy, chunky shoes.”

Next up, the retailer’s premium label, Topman Design, shows at London Fashion Week on June 15. “It will be interesting,” Richardson hinted about the presentation. “We’re going back to the trainer again and kind of exploring that. We haven’t seen that around for a while.”

Here, Richardson discusses the retailer’s footwear goals and why collaborations are key.

1. What is Topman’s goal for footwear?
GR: We have a broad reach. Our suits do phenomenally well, so you’ve got to cover that. It makes sense for us as a brand to provide the full look, [and that means] the shoes to go with the suits. We are getting more and more of those smarter shoes coming through. But we’ve got to have a big cross-section of shoes to complement all the ranges.

2. What specific trend in men’s footwear is doing well right now for Topman?
GR: It’s this mix of sport meets casual. It sounds like a hybrid, but you can take it into casual or you can make it a smart shoe on a traditional last but with that commando sole. That seems to be the mood at the moment, a multi-use shoe. It sounds cliché to say, but [men are looking for a] one-purchase-does-all [opportunity]. It used to be so sectionalized. If you were wearing a suit, that’s the shoe you had to wear. Now you can mix and match more. And it makes design much more fun because you can explore new ideas, color, fabric. You’ve got three or four component parts [such as soles and laces] to play with, which we never had before. Loafers have been picked up a lot for spring/summer, so we have more coming through for winter. And then there are some smart casual [looks] as well.

3. How closely do you work with the license company on the shoes?
GR: I have one designer who works with the concession. When we do our trend packs for the season, we then do the shoes because that way the collections come together. Then we sit down with those guys and say, “This is what we are doing in clothing.” We need shoes that can complement the trends.

4. Topman partnered with Oliver Spencer on footwear in 2010. Are collaborations particularly important in men’s shoes?
GR: That was such a successful collaboration. When you think about it, all those highlighted soles in bright colors almost started there. Mark McNairy is doing it, and it’s sort of happening everywhere [now]. Collaborations are important. We haven’t done any recently on shoes, but it’s something we should look at going forward because that one was so successful.

5. How would you describe your personal style?
GR: I’m more of a traditionalist. I like simple men’s clothes just with something a little more interesting about them. Wacky for me is always a hard one.

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