Topshop – Take Two

More than a few years ago now, I worked at Topshop on Oxford Street in London, in the women’s underwear section.

My department was made up of all the girls not quite edgy enough to be selling jeans or leather jackets, so we, the more wall-flowery, shy employees ended up in the underwear department.  We were a some what motley bunch,  like pirates with lunch boxes and good intentions.  A Russian girl, four British girls, an Australian girl and me.

Our shifts were long and tiring.  Sometimes I wore heels because I wanted to feel fancy.  Largely the heel wearing times turned into blisters and tears on the bus home times, but mostly, the experience of working there was incredibly eye opening.  I learnt a lot, hung a lot of underwear back onto hangers and saw a lot of tourist’s boobs.

Last week, Topshop opened here in Joburg, just down the road, in big, bad Sandton City.  This morning, I braved the over eager pre Christmas shoppers and headed to my old/new stomping ground.  Hhmm.  Firstly, it’s much smaller than you think and is a little like an overseas aunt who comes to visit, carrying a huge suitcase that you assume is filled with presents for you.  A huge suitcase which turns out to be filled with air and old copies of the Oprah magazine.  Boo.

There are things, lovely things, but things that all feel like other things, things that we have already seen.  Ironically, Topshop is probably one of the original creators of things but the knocker-off-ers have gotten so good that they begin to feel like they are the chicken and the egg.  Heck, like they own the whole farm yard.

My bleating and weird metaphors aside, I did come away with this New York tee (more on New York soon), a fabric bag (great to help with cutting down on the plastic bag bonanza that happens every time I step foot in Woolworths) and a sense of nostalgia for a time in my early twenties when I slept on a bunk bed, jogged in the snow and was part of a pirate crew of sweet, well mannered girls with a chattering of accents, against the backdrop of an ocean of underwear.

That’s right, an ocean of underwear.

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  1. Movan says:

    Great writing! Creates such images in my mind. x x :-)

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