Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Students are Revolting, says Topman

When you search 'Philip Green topshop' on Google, the search engine suggests 'tax'. Without doubt, particularly over the past 6-8 months, the issue of tax avoidance has been brought forward by students, protesting against the government's policy to increase tuition fees, as well as the members of UK Uncut. These groups argue that companies who have avoided paying taxes, through various avenues, should be forced to pay this money, just as the taxpayer has to pay their full taxes.

Being one of those guilty of a form of tax avoidance, Philip Green and the Arcadia Group, specifically the Topshop on Oxford Circus was closed down on multiple occasions due to activists protesting and occupying the shop. Needing to do some shopping for 'smart clothes', I'll admit it, I rather shockingly forgot about the events of the past few months and walked into Topman thinking that I may be able to get something in the sale.

Tshirt at Topman.
Yet what I came across certainly shook my memory and reminded me that Philip Green was a clever businessman. Here's what I found, a t-shirt with the writing, 'THE STUDENTS ARE REVOLTING'. Therefore, while there were a large number of students getting involved in shutting down the shop resulting in reduced profits for a few days, Philip Green's shop is targeting those students who - clearly - were not involved in the occupations and may simply see the t-shirt as having an interesting design. Therefore, in an ironic twist, it would be those who didn't participate in the protests who would wear these t-shirts, simply aiding Green in earning back that lost income.

It's a little hard not to think of the anger felt by activists campaigning against Topshop, a brand many would have become devoted to, a brand often described as typically British. Pairing students against each other in this way, Mr. Green, while an intelligent move, is immature and childish. Protesters emerged outside Topshop feeling let down with a brand that they had grown to love, a brand that allowed them to express their own style. But then again, those who weren't protesting will be unlikely to buy this t-shirt - and those who did protest will not enter your shop - so good luck trying to get rid of it when it is inevitably on sale.

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