YOU WEAR WHAT YOU EAT
Show allegiance to your food tribe with the new breed of gourmet gear
Are you game enough to rock burger sneakers?
LAST WEEK I SAW a woman wearing a jumper with the Keen’s Mustard logo, refashioned into the slogan “Keen as Mustard”. Then my friend Lea, who works in food media, told me she was on a waiting list for a pair of Shake Shack sneakers. Yeah, your favourite American burger joint now sells sneakers; part of a collaboration with Kiwi sneaker brand Allbirds.
While food and fashion have always had some pretty clear connections – both are seasonal, driven by hype, embrace the concept of high-low and so on – food merch is something slightly different. It’s not just wearing a Ganni croissant T-shirt or a pair of Charlotte Olympia fruit salad slippers (though for the record, I’d wear both) – it’s going to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s US website and ordering a branded (and honestly, kind of cute) sweatshirt (again: yep, would wear).
Fashion has long found inspiration in food, from Beyonce’s “Kale” jumper to Dolce & Gabbana’s painterly vegetable prints from 2012. “Graphic prints of fruits such as pineapples, lemons and cherries make for such eye-catching designs,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-a-porter. They look great and they’re perfect for social media.” (See: this season’s Gucci pineapple sunglasses, Miu Miu’s cherry top, Jacquemus’s mismatched lemon earrings, HVN’S cherry pattern dress.)
It’s one thing to stick a strawberry print on a whimsical skirt, though, and quite another to announce your love of Mcdonald’s with a pair of the fast food giant’s pyjamas (they released a limited-edition line in 2016). The rise in branded food clothing is a mix of kitschy cool that, like von der Goltz says, is tailor-made for the Instagram age, and a form of self-expression that positions the wearer as both fashion-conscious and culturally in the know. It’s behavioural identity writ small, she says. “Food provides a special and shared experience that we all understand – what you eat tells the story of who you are, and that’s the same as clothing. It’s a form of self-expression.” There’s currency, after all, in knowing what to eat and where to go: food merch is a clever fast-track to announce that, yeah, not only do you know about the doughnuts at Shortstop, you’ve been there, done that, and yep, bought the T-shirt.