Topshop & Topman’s first date for Valentine’s Day
By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist
Fashion forward brands Topshop and Topman rarely commingle when it comes to marketing, but for Valentine’s Day, the couple decided to go on a date in director Aaron Christian’s “Valentine’s Dilemmas.” In the piece a couple meets – via the internet of course – proceeds to make their most crucial dating decision (what to wear) and goes on their first date. It’s a wonderful pairing of fashion and film as well as the two brands. The Impression reached out to director Aaron Christian to chat about digital dating, film, and bringing these crazy kids together for Valentine’s Day.
Aaron, the piece is a nice ode to love around Valentine’s, can you share how the idea developed?
I was initially contacted by a friend, Mr. Dan Copley, who’s currently the Digital Art Director for TOPMAN, about a potential film they wanted to create around dating for Valentine’s Day. Initially I thought the project was specifically for TOPMAN. However, after a few meetings with the team it soon developed into a collaborative project with both TOPSHOP & TOPMAN working together.
Did you write it as well?
I wrote an initial treatment; however, the team had already created a rough script for a short film, and we eventually all agreed that was the best direction to move forward. That script was created by Dan Copley and Katie Freestone of TOPSHOP. We then had a larger meeting with the wider teams to discuss finer details.
That’s unusual, in that you managed to cross the great divide by doing a piece that played both to TopShop and TopMan. Had that ever been done before?
It was something that the company had never attempted before so it was an amazing experience to really start from scratch and see if we could pull it off. It was an internal decision to attempt to play to both audiences. Balancing both brands’ tone of voice was a tricky subject. Both brands have strong aesthetics and different audiences. However, whenever we came across a problem we would always try to keep things simple. I feel that we never wanted to underestimate our audience, we didn’t want to dumb things down for them. Young audiences are extremely savvy so we often found that we were worrying about things we didn’t have to.
You seem to have some fun playing up how different each sex is in approaching a date as well as dating in the digital age. Any of your real life experiences find their way into this piece?
Credit has to be given to the TOPMAN & TOPSHOP teams respectively. They really do understand their audiences well, so that was a great help. But I do remember asking everyone in the room to just simply not THINK of writing but to tell one awkward experience each person has had during a date. The best material came from that session, which really helped it become a more relatable piece, I feel.
None of my personal experiences made it into the final cut. That would have probably been a different film altogether! (Laughs)
So you direct, film, and edit, when is the feature film coming out?
I’m still deciding whether I actually want to get into feature film, to be honest. My path wasn’t too conventional. I studied film, then set up a style consultancy and worked my way into the men’s fashion industry. I founded a style website, Individualism (www.individualism.co.uk), which led me into the world of digital content and editorial, which I found fascinating. It was fast paced, innovative and the landscape changed everyday, which was great for me. Moving onto working for MRPORTER.COM was and still is the best job I ever had.
Taking charge of the video department there, I managed to explore all my interests, social media, film making, coding, styling, fashion buying. I got to see a 360° perspective on menswear which allowed me to approach video content from a new perspective. Not just creating an idea and seeing it from pre-production to post, but from an earlier stage. What products are being bought, how they are made from the factory. Then how we can create a story from that. How should we direct it. Then how will we marketing this film? Is there a way of capturing extra content so we have original footage for social media and marketing? And finally working with the tech and analytics teams to make sure the film we’ve created actually gets seen.
I still feel it’s changing now and so content and commercials are what interest me right at this moment. But hey, directing is one of the lucky professions where we can actually say we all do until we physically can’t anymore because we love what we do. Not many people can say that. So feature film may pop up down the line when I’m in my prime… around 60! (Laughs)
And we are looking forward to it!
Director/ Editor | Aaron Christian