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In Review: fashion and beauty take on food collaborations

Jeremy Lim
05 May 2022

Fashion and food have long produced brand partnerships offering an inventive melange of identities and innovations.

From Taco Bell’s collaboration with Forever 21 to Heineken teaming up with Japanese streetwear brand A Bathing Ape, recent mergers between food and fashion have reached fever pitch as fashion and beauty brands, indie restaurants and global food corporations continue to broaden the meeting point between the two industries.

Through brand partnerships and savvy marketing strategies, food companies are increasingly creating multi-sensory interactions and merchandise to offer their customers a more memorable, engaging and purchase-inducing experience.

KFC has been taking fast food chains to the next level with branded merchandise and accessories for the past decade. This year's offerings include a "Fried Buckquet", part fried chicken, part fresh flowers for Mother's Day and a luxurious limited edition purse crafted in Italian leather by Savile Row artisans.

In February, Primark partnered with Greggs for an unlikely British tie-up featuring a clothing line and a fashion boutique pop up. The items sold out in under an hour and spurred a third-party resale market at inflated prices. According to the Evening Standard, an £18 hoodie was sold on eBay for £140 - almost eight times its retail price.

Meanwhile, luxury houses are taking fine dining by the storm, with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Swiss luxury watchmakers IWC Schaffhausen and Breitling jumping on the premium dining trend with new restaurants and cafes openings.

Fashion and luxury marketing expert Susanna Nicoletti noted that the love story between food and fashion has developed with ups and some downs since the '80s, when Giorgio Armani opened the first Armani Caffè in London, followed by thee re-opening of the Doney caffè in Florence with the Emporio Armani look.

"Food and fashion share the same idea of delivering an immersive experience to the final customer, where the brand can define a lifestyle more than just an outfit or a look. From the Ralph Lauren Polo bar to the Prada Marchesi and the Gucci Bottura, the partnership between the food industry is aimed at conquering all the senses of the customer and delivering a powerful customer journey," she said.

"Opening fashion and food partnerships are also a great occasion for raising the buzz for the brands involved and getting a high level of free publicity. On the other side certainly the customer loves living the experience of two brands together, very often both dedicated to excellence of style and taste."

However, Nicoletti pointed out the risk that comes with market saturation of such hybrid experiences: "If not chosen carefully (sharing same positioning and values), the partnership risks dragging fashion brands into the world of the commodities and weakening the powerful marriage of these two industries based on the highest level of creativity and quality."

Ultimately, these food-fashion-beauty collaborations serve as a fresh take on publicity, alternative sources of revenue for the brands, and enticing fans to become moving advertisements.

We look at the most recent collaborations that caught our attention this year:

No stranger to the world of fast food merchandise, KFC ventured into the luxe fashion world to celebrate its new £1.98 Twister Wrap deal with a limited edition 'The Wrapuette' Bag worth £198.

Drawing inspiration from the shape of the popular Y2K Baguette bag, the "FASH-HEN" accessory is made from Italian leather and is handcrafted by Savile Row artisans, features a Colonel Sanders logo at the front, and a metal KFC keychain.

Primark. // Greggs

High street bakery chain Greggs launched an 11-item fashion collection in a first-of-its-kind collaboration with fast fashion retailer Primark, which includes a new 130-seat "Tasty by Greggs" cafe in Primark Birmingham.

The collaboration began with Greggs sausage rolls appearing alongside fashion mannequins in the window display of several Primark stores. The range of Greggs-branded merchandise included hoodies, joggers, T-shirts, trainers and bucket hats.

E.L.F. Dunkin'

Following its Chipotle collaboration in 2020 and Cookies 'N' Dreams ice cream-inspired collection last year, E.L.F Cosmetics teamed up with Dunkin' Donut for another limited-edition makeup collection.

The E.L.F. x Dunkin' "menu" of doughnut and coffee inspired-beauty products included Boston Kreme Eye Shadow Palettes, Glazed for Days Lip Gloss Set, Donut Forget Putty Primer and a Strawberry Frosted With Sprinkles Face Sponge. E.L.F. also opened a "donut-shaped walk-through" pop-up New York City's West Village.

The Bok Shop

London sneaker boutique OffGrid teamed up with fried chicken restaurant The Bok Shop for a new retail concept combining food and footwear at Westquay shopping centre.

The restaurant hosted a bespoke limited edition sneaker display, allowing customers to dine while purchasing the latest Yeezy and coveted Air Jordan Dior sneakers from OffGrid’s trainer experts.

A Bathing Ape

For its latest collaboration, BAPE joined forces with craft gin brand Monkey 47 for an eccentric collaboration comprising of a Hawaiian shirt, a hoodie, a T-shirt, skateboards and limited-edition bottle of Monkey 47’s Schwarzwald Dry Gin.

The collection fuses Monkey 47’s unique technicolour jungle print with BAPE’s trademark camo design to create a collection that "combines the best from the urban clothing and gin art worlds".

Coca-Cola Covent Garden store

Having collaborated with fashion brands including Diesel, Tommy Hilfiger and Converse, Coca-Cola stepped into retail with the opening of a flagship store in London's Covent Garden.

Following the success of similar retail stores in the US, the concept fashion store offers branded accessories and premium clothing lines as well as collaborations with brands including Lee jeans, Herschel and BAPE.

The store also features a premium Beverage Bar, serving custom Coca-Cola drinks and limited editions, and a can customisation service.

As brands seek to attract new customers in a social media-driven economy, luxury brands are increasingly turning to cafes and eateries to attract shoppers with high fashion and fine dining experiences.

This year, Gucci opened its contemporary restaurant, Gucci Osteria in Seoul, South Korea, offering traditional Italian cuisine infused with creative twists using local recipes and ingredients. Alongside three other branches in Florence, Los Angeles and Tokyo, the Italian fashion house also opened Gucci Circolo, a cafe and multidisciplinary space in London's Shoreditch to celebrate its centenary year in 2021.

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