Vox pop

Top Shop is planning to sell ‘sex and underwear’ from an in-store boutique, placing erotica firmly on the high street. But will sex toys lose some of their provocative cachet in a flagship retail environment more associated with teens than titillation? Ho

‘Who’s embarrassed to talk about their bedside friend these days? Certainly not many 15 year-olds. Generally, it’s their parents who remain coy about the subject. Top Shop is brimming with the flirty 30s, not teenage temptresses. Still, you could position Top Shop as: Creating the biggest buzz on the high street.’

Simon Manchipp, Design director, No One

‘Although my collegues are all keen on high street titillation, our concerns centre on the dodgyness of exposing a pre-teen audience to sex as marketing. Some of Top Shop’s customers are as young as nine and at the risk of sounding prude, it’s an uncomfortable combination.’

Tom Dixon, Head of design, Habitat

‘The Top Shop brand is built on an essence of fashionable, flirty, innocent girlie fun that jars with the (still unacceptable) perception of sex toys. It’s not an issue of sex toys losing their provocative cachet (that will always remain), but of Top Shop being seen as having lost the plot.’

Lucy Unger, Client services director, Fitch London

‘Anything that concerns parents and stimulates BBC Radio 4 debates has got to be good for business. Like French Connection and Benetton, Top Shop should put this sense of rebelliousness at the heart of how it positions the range and exploit all the controversy. You never know, the risqué image that this creates might just rub off on its clothes, so to speak.’

John Holton, Creative director, Innocence

‘This is a canny move to capitalise on a more profitable group of older “fashionistas” rather than the teens typically associated with the Top Shop brand. So no “dicks on lolly sticks” aimed at teens please. It should reflect a modern attitude in tune with women’s confidence in their sexuality with lots of fabulous lingerie and stylish merchandise.’

Cheryl Giovannoni, Chief executive officer, Coley Porter Bell

‘How about “Top Shop – Top Shelf”. Three things that will change in an instant: one, gift vouchers from parents; two, fitting rooms; and three, teenage angst.’

Simon Waterfall, Creative director, Poke London

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