" The yellow and black that look out from the screen are like caution tape, a warning that fashion shopping truly is changing forever. Proceed (to ASOS) with caution."Illustration by Keri McIntyre

2014. I still remember my first Topshop purchase, and it remains quietly folded at the bottom of a drawer: a white sleeveless top with a Peter Pan collar of crocheted daisies. I remember everything about buying it – it was on the sale rack! An absolute bargain of £8! I proudly carried it to the till and felt like I had finally graduated into the world of ‘grown-up fashion’. After that, many a rainy afternoon in my early teens was spent meticulously perusing the floors of Guildford Topshop, clutching birthday money, a Christmas gift voucher, or even just a few pounds of pocket money with which I’d buy a pair of those frilly ankle socks that were the epitome of school uniform pimping. It’s often hard to know at what point in your life an obsession truly began; it seems hazy, and you can’t remember ‘the time before’. But I can attribute my love of fashion to that time, that place, that brand.

“There is so much to be said for a perambulating perusal through a carefully thought-through store display”

2018. Having a weekend job alongside sixth form meant all my wages went on clothes, and the convenience of online shopping made me a complete ASOS convert. I’d shoot down anyone who said there was just “too much on there” with the reminder of the filter tool, while, as a happy owner of Premier delivery membership, I could go from lusting after something to wearing it in under 24 hours, which proved extremely convenient for party outfit crises. The ASOS app made a home on my phone screen, and became a (very expensive) method of procrastination – something to scroll through on the bus, envisioning what could be if only I had a spare £70 for another new coat, that was probably very similar (but also very different) to one I already owned. My wardrobe steadily grew, and I started to develop a concept of what my individual style actually looked like.

"Topshop leaves behind a British high street fashion legacy and I worry it will suffer as it is swept up into Asos."twitter / the_petitepear

2021. Taking into account my polyamorous relationship with the two brands, it might be expected that the announcement of their amalgamation after ASOS’ £330m purchase of Topshop (and Arcadia affiliates Topman and Miss Selfridge) would be good news for me. But reading about the shift made me realise more than ever how much, and how quickly, fashion shopping is irreversibly changing. Aside from the thousands of jobs that will be lost with the closure of all Topshop stores – including the 5-floor Oxford Street flagship – it truly feels like the beginning of the end of in-person shopping.

The immediacy of online shopping is hugely favourable for the hectivity of contemporary life. It holds advantages that I, like anyone, have benefitted from, but I can’t help but lament the death of future teenagers’ ability to beg their parents to give them a lift into town, so that they and a group of friends could spend hours in curtained cubicles trying on clothes that they don’t yet have money of their own to buy. However naively, I didn’t think that, at 19, my own teenage experiences would already be regenerating.

“The yellow and black that look out from the screen are like caution tape, a warning that fashion shopping truly is changing forever”

There is so much to be said for a perambulating perusal through a carefully thought-through store display, an experience that scrolling on a screen cannot emulate. Admittedly that has its advantages; I am eternally grateful for the ‘buy the look’ and ‘similar items’ functions, and back in stock notifications have fixed many a momentary fashion heartbreak. But however much I insisted the massive catalogue of ASOS was easy to navigate at first, I do find it increasingly hard to find exactly what I’m looking for. With the absorption of an exponentially growing number of brands onto the site, I know this will only get harder.


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If we are beginning to see an end to shopping physically on the high street, the concept of ‘high street’ fashion must be rapidly changing too. Topshop leaves behind a British high street fashion legacy and I worry it will suffer as it is swept up into ASOS. Frequently making runway trends wearable, affordable and yet still decent quality, Topshop has been such a firm favourite among fashion lovers, but nobody can say for sure that it will not get lost in the swathes of clothes we are met with on ASOS.

A visit to the Topshop website now greets you with an excessively cheerful message: “Topshop is now a part of ASOS!”. The exclamation mark is forcefully excited, but that is an emotion I find hard to attribute to this shift. The yellow and black that look out from the screen are like caution tape, a warning that fashion shopping truly is changing forever. Proceed (to ASOS) with caution.