As one of Britain’s leading clothing stores Topshop has managed to cultivate a loyal consumer market with a combination of relatively affordable and fashionable clothes, Topshop is the place to go if you want to keep up with the latest high street trends. However the clothing giant has found itself at the centre of an online campaign courtesy of one of its own shoppers Becky Hopper who posted a picture from one of its stores.
Now this was not just any picture that Hopper posted, the image showed one of her friends standing next to a mannequin, so what is the fuss all about? Well, the picture that was shared on Twitter clearly shows that Hopper’s friend who is a size 8-10 has more BMI (body mass index) than the mannequin. Hopper accused Topshop in her tweet of falsely portraying the natural body size of women in its stores.
Image source - Huffingtonpost
Not long after the picture made its way onto Twitter a public outcry which propelled the image to viral status shortly followed. With angry debates targeted at Topshop and its alleged negative representation of body image. Literally overnight this seemingly innocent picture has forced Topshop to release the following statement:
Mannequins are made from solid fibreglass, so in order for clothing to fit, the form of the mannequins need to be of a certain dimension to allow clothing to be put on and removed; this is therefore not meant to a representation of the average female body.
Business owners who operate within retail (especially the clothing sector, beware) can certainly learn a thing or two from this PR nightmare. Topshop has built its brand on selling the trendiest clothing you can get your hands on, with many of its clothing inspired by catwalk designs, therefore this is not a good look for Topshop at all. If you too build your brand in a similar fashion (no pun intended) you have to be aware that your consumer market is a diverse group, not just in regards to taste in clothing, but body size as well.
It’s not like Topshop only sell size zero clothing, you can walk into any one of these brilliant stores in any part of the world and find clothes that accommodate a diverse array of sizes. What’s happened here is that perhaps Topshop have failed to recognize that it’s not just the clothing lines that should represent their shopper’s clothes sizes. The store has been irresponsible in this sense but any devout Topshop customer will tell you that a mishap like this one is hardly Topshop’s attempt to alienate its own customers.
Like any good news story, this one has certainly raised awareness about the underlining connotations a business’ or brand’s advertising can have. In this sense, Topshop has fallen foul of a mere oversight of how their stores actually portray a healthy body image towards young women. No business wants the kind of media attention that Topshop is sweating under right now, but somewhere in-between the power of social media, public opinion and a very questionable looking mannequin this is something that Topshop will have to resolve quickly if it wants to salvage any shred of its credibility.
Main image source - thegoldstandard