On paper Jane Shepherdson transformed one store, although in actuality she changed the entire High Street by raising the expectation of the British public. During her time working at Topshop she took the store from a place to buy cheap looking clothes to a world famous shopping haunt for everybody from teenagers with pocket money to the Hollywood A-list.
She left Topshop in October 2006 supposedly following ongoing disputes with Sir Philip Green. In the months that followed she worked as a consultant for various stores before taking on a position at Whistles. She spoke to The Guardian about her time at Topshop and her plans for the future.
- On her interest in clothes:"Loved buying them, loved trying them on, loved altering them, loved customising them, loved vintage. Just loved them; and it got to a point where I realised that I was more interested in it than most; realised there were a lot of people who weren't particularly interested, while I would be out every weekend, shopping, or trying things, or customising."
- Her buying policy at Topshop:"We took this sort of vow. We said: Yeah, OK, right. We're not going to have anything in that we're not proud of. So we had those sort of - I don't know if you remember them - Hunza dresses, really stretchy disco dresses, clingy, really tasteless. Awful ... but we used to sell - in ghastly colours usually - I don't know, a thousand a week probably. Just awful. So we said: Right, we all hate them, we're just not going to have them any more. We're only going to have things we can absolutely stand by and be proud of. It was like: hang on here a minute, we are dressing the women of Britain, so let's dress them well! Not badly! Not deliberately badly! Because we have got an opportunity here."
- On Kate Moss:"I like Kate and I find it embarrassing that people think I left over a row about a supermodel. It is a shame that people think I'm that trivial"
- On being a woman in fashion:"I think you probably have to be very competitive, and very tough. It's all run by men. You have to be quite bloody-minded. You have to be quite difficult."
- On Whistles:"I just want everyone to be talking about it. Everyone. It's the same thing again! I want lots of customers. I want lots of people to come in and say: oh, I love it! I love it! It's so wonderful and beautiful and it's just me! I want to make a lot of women happy!"
To find out more about Shepherdson
Shepherdson's work will first become apparent at Whistles for Autumn 2008 although she admits that it is a work in progress. We can't wait to see how the store changes.