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Case 4: Kate Moss and Topshop - Strategic Partnering

Case 4: Kate Moss and Topshop

Global Distinctive Practice Cases for Strategic Partnering – Report by Imperial College London Students (Continued). 


Case 4:  Kate Moss and Topshop



What happens when British retailer Topshop teams with a supermodel and style icon Kate Moss?

In 2014, Topshop, Britain’s high street retailer with over 300 stores in the UK (Topshop, 2014) team with Kate Moss, a British supermodel crowned Britain’s new ‘Fashion Icon’ (Siasat, 2014) to produce Kate Moss for Topshop.  The response was astounding.  ‘Shoppers lined the pavement outside Topshop on Oxford Street, spilling into the road, much to the bemusement of tourists and the chagrin of stewards dispatched to keep them from getting run over…some of whom had been waiting for over five hours.’  (Swash and Dzimwasha, 2014)

Inspired from her own wardrobe, Kate Moss launched her second collection at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Circus on 29th April 2014 (Carreon, 2014).  Kate Moss first collaborated and launched her first collection for Topshop in 2007 (Bergin, 2013).


Achievement & Assessment

The Kate Moss for Topshop 2007 was sold in over 20 countries (Mail Online, 2007).  It lifted Topshop sales by 10% (Mail Online, 2007).  For the global launch of the collection 2014, Topshop collaborated with luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter, where half the collection was out of stock just half day after the launch (Fashion United, 2014).  The Kate Moss Collection for Spring Summer 14 is available in Topshop stores in 40 countries, as well as online at Topshop.com and wholesale partnerships (Topshop, 2014).  “Girls who move merchandise end up moving up the corporate ladder to supermodeldom” (Blakely, 2007).  Kate moss is obviously one of them, causing a sensation with her collection.

The partnership between Kate Moss and Topshop is a success.  It attracted fervent media attention, boosting value for both sides.  A large number of media reports, sales growth of Topshop and value increase of Kate Moss, which will be discussed in detail later.  Kate Moss was extremely controversial in 2005 and 2006, resulting in uncertainties.  Drug allegations resulted Kate Moss to be dropped from a large number of fashion campaigns and contracts (Britt and Anderson, 2005).  After she was cleared of all charges in June 2006, she won the model of the year at the British Fashion Awards (Bergin, 2013).  This partnership seemed rocky with a break of approximately four years in 2007 and 2010.The second collaboration was in 2014.  These facts make it hard to evaluate the performance of this partnership during the target and prepare stage in The Strategic Partnership Model (Bardin, 2014), in terms of enterprise ‘partnering’ strategy, strategic partnership development, selection of the best partners etc.  When it comes down to the partnership value propositions and offers, they have done great work jointly.


Compelling partnership value propositions and offers

The following winning offers demonstrate the strategic values created successfully by this ongoing partnership between Kate and Topshop.


1. Areas of co-operation (AoCs)

 A. Marketing Integration

The partnership between Kate Moss and Topshop can be said to be co-branding, a strategic alliance.  Each other work and create marketing synergy together (Kalafatis and Ledden, 2014).  Co-branding combines the strength of Topshop’s human resource and its brand influence with Kate Moss’s design talent and celebrity influence, increasing the value of both partners.

B. New markets

Topshop attempts to attract older and wealthier segments by leveraging Kate Moss’s influence.  In 2013, Euromonitor International revealed that female from Western Europe, aged 35-49, has relatively stronger buying powers and willingness to pay on premium quality commodities (FashionUnited, 2014).

Featuring Kate Moss’s designer fashions, Topshop associates and positions itself alongside premium labels leveraging on the luxury and stylish image of Moss (FashionUnited, 2014).  Partnering with Kate Moss allows Topshop to professionally gain access to the Net-a-Porter, a high fashion and luxury online retailer and tap into a new customer segment, premium customers who are fashion-conscious (FashionUnited, 2014).

C. Design co-operation

Topshop provides their design and the buying team help Kate Moss design and offer advice on her previous collection in terms of fabrications and attention to detail (Smith, 2014).

 2.  Joint destination

The partnership provides significant media buzz and a point of differentiation in the competition among the high street brands.  Both partners desire to lead the fashion industry and be a fashion trendsetter.  Philip Green, who is the CEO of the Arcadia Group, a retail giant that includes Topshop, feels confident to produce a truly special collection by equipping Moss’ fashionable design with Topshop’s ability to interpret (Utalkingmarketing.com, 2007).

Philip Green is of the opinion that, Kate Moss’s iconic style and smart insight into the fashion industry matches Topshop’s vision of fast fashion and professional designs (Utalkingmarketing.com, 2007).  Green also believed that Topshop is able to guarantee quality and Kate Moss can create good look of the new fashions, which could clearly demonstrate the commitment of Topshop and Kate Moss to this ongoing partnership.  In 2004, for their new partnership, Kate voiced that she really missed being engaged in the design process, and working with the designing and buying team at Topshop (Smith, 2014).


3. Source of values (SoVs)

A. Kate Moss supports Topshop’s global expansion

Topshop has planned to spread the collection of Kate Moss worldwide.  Green commented in this recent cooperation

“The Topshop business has developed extensively around the globe since we launched with Kate in 2007, and it’s our intention to launch and sell this collection in all 40 countries world-wide” (Arcadia, 2013).

The latest spring 2014 collection of Kate Moss is also considered to have been used to break into Chinese market (Reuters, 2013).  This high-profile signing of Kate Moss also fuels Topshop’s American ambition.  Green publicly stated that Kate Moss is the store’s most successful in-house designer and would be in attendance when first New York Store opens (Freeman, 2009).

 B. Good brand association

For Topshop, the attraction of featuring Kate moss design is not only based on her waifish figure and fashion intuitions, but also include her confident lifestyle and successful career achievement, which is always appealing to the public.  As described above, Kate Moss has always resulted in a sensation and significant media buzz at Topshop launch.  For example, this year when she launched her latest collection for Topshop at their Oxford Circus store, it drew an incredible crowd (Smith, 2014).

At the time, when Topshop first partner with Kate Moss, estimated earnings was $9 million.  Ranked second among the most top paid models in the world just behind Gisele Bündchen (Blakeley, 2007).  Immense accolades have been achieved by Kate Moss for her modelling career.  In 2007, Kate Moss was acknowledged to be one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine (Luscombe, 2007).  According to the 2009 Rich List, she was estimated to have a net worth of £40 million and ranked 1,348th among the lists of richest person in the UK (The Sunday Times, 2009).  Kate Moss has embarked on many fashion ventures with a variety of luxury brand designers including Gucci, Calvin Klein Chanel and so forth (Britt and Anderson, 2005.  To acknowledge her achievement in fashion industry, a Special Recognition Award in the 2013 British Fashion Awards was given to her (Bergin, 2013).

Kate Moss can help Topshop brand associate good images involving luxury, fashionable, unique confident, strong etc.  Since Moss is a successful businesswoman and a confident single woman, who successfully recovered from a serious drugs scandal; this woman’s life image can enhance Topshop’s brand image to be not only a fast fashion brand with highest quality and designed for professionals but also a confident and luxury lifestyle (Debra, 2013).


C. A superficial industry where age matters.

The fashion industry is “notoriously in love with youth” (McVeigh, 2012) and models are usually paid based on their experience (Blakely, 2007).  Earnings are determined by the relevancy of the model, which takes into account “recent campaigns, editorials, fashion magazine covers and the opinion of those in the industry” (Blakeley, 2007).  Kate Moss earnings have “plunge $3.5 million” from 2012 (Le, 2013).  Ivan Bart (interviewed by Le, 2013) argues, “Kate still has enormous international presence”.  As ‘new faces’ (le, 2013) catches up with Kate Moss, it is without doubt that age is creeping up with her.  At 40, Kate Moss ‘approaches middle age’ (Bayley, 2014) and is one of the oldest supermodels in the industry.


D. Why is Kate Moss motivated to partner with Topshop?

McVeigh believes that it takes a smart model to ‘achieve a longer shelf-life’ (2012).  Le is also in the opinion that the “10 women on FORBES’ list of highest-paid models have something else, too: business sense.”  (2013). Bundchen’s successful partnerships with Grendene, the Brazilian footwear company an example of a model with a business brain.  ‘Because international exposure is so much greater in value, there’s been this sudden shift in the industry where models are all finding ways to expand their brands and partnerships.  It’s a smart business model for them,” (Ed Razek interviewed by Le, 2013).  These evidences advocate Kate Moss’s business acumen and strategic partnership motivation with Topshop, who has stores around the globe.



As Kate Moss for Topshop is a famous brand with both sides benefiting substantially from the partnership, it is recommended for them to sign a contract for long-term collaboration and exclusivity.  Since Kate Moss is not a professional designer and customers prefer surprises to regular collection, this contract shall not refer to details of when the next collection is and what to present.  However, it shall provide clear navigation on further partnering destination.

Topshop can also turn Kate Moss image into Topshop fashion design, instead of just a supermodel launching a special and limited collection inspired by her style.  One way is to ‘‘officially’ engage Kate Moss as a ‘visiting’ designer’ and involve her in many other activities of Topshop.  It can be seen that the influence of Kate Moss can result in incredible media buzz and public sensation.  Moreover, her fashionable icon is able to help Topshop be the fashion setter and her successful lifestyle is able to create positive influence on the public.  Green also recognised Kate Moss to be Topshop’s successful in-house designer (Freeman, 2009).

All these future considerations will benefit Kate Moss in terms of maintaining the image of the Britishi Fashion Icon rather than just a super model.  In the meantime, Topshop can also benefit from the incredible media influence of Kate Moss.


Conclusion of Case 3 and 4

The best strategic partnership requires the development of compelling a value proposition by clearly defining each partner’s SoVs and offers to help both sides create strategic values in the long term.  The SoVs of both sides play a major role to form a successful partnership.  For Coca-Cola, partnering with McDonald’s creates the best taste coke due to the unique supply chain provided by McDonald’s.  Both of them help each other to realise the international expansion plans by sharing and co-operating with each other, which are all industry leaders.  For Topshop, Kate Moss helps the brand create enormous media buzz and become the representatives of the latest fashion as well as “gain access to the older and wealthier customer segments.  For Kate Moss, she is also happy to work with Topshop’s team and Topshop also increase her value and acknowledge her success in fashion industry.  Another essential success of those two strategic partnership cases lies in the fact that both sides possess same joint mission and the co-operation is complementary and value-adding.  In future, to maintain a long-term solid strategic alliance may require more efforts in monitoring the AoCs and SoVs in order to guarantee the quality of the offers.



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