Topless Lifeguards Take Over London for the Gilly Hicks and Hollister Store Openings

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Gilly Hicks and Hollister, discussing their Regent Street flagship store openings. They were flying 100 hot lifeguards into London, who would travel on double decker buses from Regent Street to three new Gilly Hicks and Hollister stores – The Bentall Centre in Kingston, Westfield Stratford and Bluewater in Kent. “We would like to invite you to board the bus in Regent street and travel to Westfield with us. Would this be of interest to you?” Not surprisingly I emailed back immediately saying yes.

I’ve done some crazy and unexpected things for fashion over the years, but this was the most surreal experience to date. Here’s a minute-by-minute account of the Saturday I spent with the topless lifeguards. FYI: I’m using a bit of artistic licence when it comes to the timings – because who seriously has time to look at a watch when you’re surrounded by hot lifeguards?

9.30am: I arrive at the brand new Gilly Hicks and Hollister flagship stores on Regent Street. Teenage girls are already lining up outside both shops, waiting for the lifeguards to arrive.

10am: Four buses descend on Regent Street. There are toned bodies everywhere you look, girls are screaming so loudly I wonder whether One Direction have quit the music industry to become topless lifeguards and Gilly Hicks’ infamous “Down Undies” are flying from the sky. The topless lifeguards will spend the day throwing 140,000 pairs of Down Undies over London.

10.05am: This [see video below] happens. Girls grab as many Down Undies as they can.

10.15am: Somehow amongst all this madness the Gilly Hicks and Hollister stores are officially opened. The lifeguards hop back onto their buses and the Gilly Hicks teams get out their hot-lifeguard-checklists to make sure everyone is on board. You don’t want to lose a lifeguard!

10.20am: Everyone is on board the Westfield Stratford bus, so we take off on a tour of London. Crowds of slightly confused people gather around Oxford Circus station as Down Undies fall at their feet. Traffic is stopped as people get out their camera phones to capture the madness.

10.25am: A group of builders having a tea break outside a cafe get showered in Down Undies. Crowds continue to form around the bus, as it appears everyone in London wants a free pair of Down Undies – men, women, kids, tourists… they can’t resist.
10.40am: Disaster strikes. The bus accidentally heads down a one-way-street. Traffic comes to a standstill. The topless lifeguards try to help the situation by upping the “energy” while the bus driver attempts to turn around without running anyone over. 
10.45am: We’re back on our way. A few pairs of un-claimed Down Undies get left behind.

11.10am: We’re nearing Westfield Stratford. Lifeguards take turns to warm up at the bottom of the bus. Some take photos of the Olympic stadium with their iPhones, others head straight to the sandwiches. It becomes clear that topless lifeguards are really just like us. Kind of.

11.30am: The bus arrives at Westfield. The lifeguards get ready for the second part of their day – opening the Gilly Hicks and Hollister stores in Westfield Stratford. There are already crowds of girls weaving around the mall, waiting to catch a glimpse of the topless lifeguards.
11.35am: There’s more screaming and more confused (and startled) shoppers as the lifeguards storm through Westfield. The lifeguards literally start lifting girls off the ground and pose for pictures. As you can imagine, there are lots of smiling ladies outside the Gilly Hicks store…
11.45am: I decide I’ve seen enough topless lifeguards for one day and head to Pinkberry. I also conclude that hot topless lifeguards are all very nice, but they’ve still got nothing on Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Perhaps Gilly Hicks will hire him for their next store opening…
See more photos of the topless lifeguards over on the Coco’s Tea Party Facebook page.
All images property of Coco’s Tea Party. Feel free to print them out and stick them on your bedroom wall, but please do not republish without clearly crediting as the original source. Thank you.