It was an over-the-top grand opening for Topshop and Topman at the Grove.
The British fashion brands debuted in L.A. in a big way Thursday, drawing a crowd of 10,000 to the shopping center, the biggest retail store opening ever for the Grove.
Shoppers stood in a two-pronged line that flanked the main path of the Grove and stretched from Topshop -- housed in what used to be a Banana Republic -- all the way down to Abercrombie & Fitch at the opposite end of the mall. The earliest arrived at 5 a.m.
Those in line were treated to a faux British street fair that included male models in short shorts on bikes, lemonade, cotton candy, temporary tattoos and gift cards containing $20 to $1,000. Shoppers waved little blue Topshop flags and showed off free neon-orange tote bags. A DJ blasted songs so loudly that other shoppers covered their ears as they passed the crowds.
"I'm pumped. We've been waiting for so long and now it's finally getting close," said Sydney Nassiri, 17, who arrived at the Grove at 9 a.m. with her friend Laurel Bylin.
"We skipped school and my parents don't really know," said Bylin, a senior at Thousand Oaks High School. "My mom was home but she was sleeping. We've been waiting for Topshop to open for months. We were like, 'We have to go.'"
The cheers became deafening once pop singer Demi Lovato took the stage to sing "Give Your Heart a Break."
Afterward, she told the crowd that Topshop "is my personal favorite brand since I was like 15 or 16 years old."
Having an L.A. store "is dangerous for me because I love Topshop so much," Lovato said.
The doors officially opened around 4:10 p.m. after a group countdown and parade of black British taxis carrying Topshop models snaked through the crowd.
Despite the thousands in line, only a few dozen shoppers were allowed in at a time. Among them was 19-year-old Karina Aldana, who made a beeline for the accessories section.
"I shop a lot, and this is pretty high up on my list," the Glendale nursing student said. "I’ve gone to Chicago for Topshop and I thought I knew what to expect, but this is even better."
Topshop started in Britain in 1964 and now has hundreds of stores in 37 countries. Its Oxford Circus flagship is among the largest fashion stores in the world.
The brand, which sells clothes, shoes, makeup and accessories, is known as a trendsetter. It was an early proponent of partnering with celebrities, such as supermodel Kate Moss, to create exclusive collections. Its fashion show this weekend in London will feature an industry novelty: full access for the public via an app, streamed video and Google+ Hangouts.
Topman was created as a brand for men in 1978, and the stores often cohabitate with Topshop locations. Both are subsidiaries of Arcadia Group, Britain’s largest private clothing retailer, which is run by Sir Philip Green.
Topshop and Topman entered the U.S. market four years ago in New York and have since expanded to Chicago, Las Vegas and more than a dozen boutiques in Nordstrom stores.
In New York, the chain's revenue and profit are up by double digits from a year ago, Topman Managing Director David Shepherd said. But there was a need to bring the brands to California shoppers, who make up about 25% of Topshop and Topman’s online traffic, he said.
Several Southern California locations were considered, including the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Glendale Galleria and the Americana at Brand in Glendale, but the Grove "was absolute top of the short list," said Robert Cohen, a real estate broker who represented Topshop and Topman.
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