Should I stop buying clothes at Topshop?

Given that Philip Green is currently embroiled in potential financial messiness, should I stop buying clothes from Topshop?

Karyn, by email

“Philip Green is embroiled in financial messiness”? Karyn, please. Show some manners. Sir Philip Green is embroiled in financial messiness, OK? Honestly, people just don’t have any respect for the moneymakers these days.

Oh Philip, Philip, Philip. Big Phil, as I imagine he likes to be called. Uncle Phil, as Kate Moss calls him, probably just before she kisses his shiny, scabby head and then takes off with his yacht for two weeks. (“Yah, yah, I’ll bring it back in perfect condition, promise. Luv you, Uncle Phil!”)

Even before the events of the past few months, in which Green has been accused of enriching himself at the cost of the high-street chain BHS and its 11,000 workers, I doubt anyone would have struggled too much to tell the difference between Philip Green and Mother Teresa. Green has long seemed to make it his life’s mission to live up to every negative stereotype of a rich person: the wife in Monaco, the daughter on reality TV, the infamous rudeness, the displays of expenditure so over the top he makes Donald Trump seem self-deprecating. So many examples of this come to mind, but my favourite will always be the three-day £4m barmitzvah he threw for his son, Brandon, at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat in 2005. Live performances from Andrea Bocelli and Destiny’s Child could, I guess, be considered the party’s highlights. But I was always intrigued more by the – and I’m quoting an actual interview with Green – “pop-up synagogue” constructed in the hotel’s garden, designed by Green’s wife, Tina, a woman whose talents truly cannot be contained.

“We’ll probably ship it to Israel afterwards, but we haven’t decided where yet,” Green told reporters at the time, apparently feeling the Middle East hadn’t suffered enough tragedy yet. Should any readers, Israeli or otherwise, know further details of what happened to Tina Green’s synagogue, please do write in, ideally with photographs.

How strange it must be to be Philip Green. How many elaborate gymnastic routines you must perform so that even though you know, deep down, that all these politicians and celebrities who suck up to you wouldn’t spit on you to put out a fire if you were poor, you can still tell yourself that they’re your friends. Green is, of course, not alone in suffering from this delusion – it is common to most famous and wealthy people. But he does seem to suffer from it more than most, given the palpable pleasure he has always taken in posing with models at fashion shows, who are often, coincidentally, on the Topshop payroll. How strange it must be to have to pay your friends to sit next to you.

Fans of Topshop have had to do their own internal gymnastics for some time. Protesters have become almost as regular a feature of the store as the crappy faux band vests on permanent sale. Most recently there were protests demanding a living wage for the store’s cleaners. Previously, there were protests about how Green and his wife are tax avoiders, protests about sweatshops, protests about the store’s use of skinny mannequins. It is true that pretty much all high-street clothing stores have incurred similar protests. But because Green, with his whale-sized ego, has insisted on making himself the face of his stores, it is harder to put his brand’s failings down to the faults of a faceless corporate brand. When you hear about one of Primark’s suppliers paying illegal workers £3.50 an hour (as they did in 2009), you probably feel a momentary flare of outrage, but eventually forget it as the story comes without a central figure. When you hear about Topshop or any of the stores in Green’s Arcadia stable doing something similar, you know precisely who is being enriched at someone else’s cost, because he’s in your newspaper, posing in St Tropez.

What’s more, Green couldn’t care less, as proven by his purchase of a £46m private jet and £100m yacht just weeks after being questioned by MPs about his role in the demise of BHS. Tina, of course, is said to be doing the private plane’s interior decor at at cost of £300,000. Truly, her range defies description. Do any of us really want to contribute to this absolute shower? Because there’s enjoying fashion, and then there’s giving Green more money so he can hire Beyoncé to sing at a 13-year-old’s party.

But here’s the real kicker: it’s not so much, should you shop at Topshop but do you want to? Yes, it was once great, but it hasn’t been since Green was so daft as to lose its former fashion boss Jane Shepherdson in 2007. The truth is, Topshop has long since lost the ground to Asos when it comes to cheap, fun clothes that look as if they could be designer. So, rejoice! You probably should hold off on shopping at Topshop. But you don’t want to go there, anyway.

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