Topman Design Spring/Summer 2016 Menswear
“Danz Like You’re Northern” was the slogan on the tank top above the patch-print pants. Northern soul—a ’70s incubated, post-mod, pre-disco underground dance scene centered around obscure rhythm and blues that was big beyond the Midlands—remains one of Britain’s most evocative style tribes. Both the dancing and the clothes were expressions of joyous excess. Check out Mark Leckey’s “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore” on YouTube and you get a pretty compelling—and dreamy—abstracted timeline of Northern soul through to rave.
Today Gordon Richardson and the team at Topman Design revived many of the classic garments from the Northern soul subculture. There were Oxford bags, pegs (they sure wore massive pants back in the day), and a black knit shirt that was gloriously Gabicci. Capes, printed ribbed turtlenecks, and those crazy-big bags were printed with a collage of ersatz club badges. This wasn’t a single-note homage, however. There was a dash of Billy Idol-flavored rocker-ish punk in appliquéd denim vests featuring “Disco Sucks” patches; some early ’80s skate in the Slimeballs-touched graphics on one badge; plus the bilious pastels on vulcanized low-tops, worn with colored athletic socks pulled taut and high. Retro sportswear had its run moment via Windrunner-touched cagoule smocks, pistachio GATS and stripe-flashed (two not three) running shorts, and flat-front trackies.
There’s a certain irony in Topman—a prime mover in the logistically led homogenization of youth attire—so assiduously referencing grassroots subcultures of yore. This, though, seemed more a loving look back than cynical sampling.