5 reasons brands should stan the rise of Food Fashion


Nike SB x Ben and Jerry's Dunk Low

Food Fashion has entered the chat and we’re here for it, but why should other brands sit up and take notice?

We’ve compiled 5 key ways your brand can benefit from a foray into fashion, and some best-in-class examples to learn from


In the last few years we’ve witnessed CPG & QSR names make the news with intriguing offers and unexpected collaborations. But moving into merch isn’t just about making headlines


Food Fashion is a mix of compelling marketing & exciting innovation that has the potential to redefine & reinvigorate how consumers interact with brands


Could it be the right move for your brand?

Here are the top 5 goals Food Fashion could help you achieve:

Brands showing up in unexpected ways are bound to make an impact on audience and industry. You zig when they expect you to zag and suddenly you’re not just back on consumers’ radars, you’re seen in a new light


We’ve watched this play out in real-time with brand banter on Twitter, but Food Fashion makes a bigger statement


Whether you’re embarking on an unusual collaboration with a big message like Merrel shoes and Dogfish Head Brewery, or simply launching a line that echoes your iconic visual identity and morning-occasionality à la 7Eleven, adding merch to the mix gives consumers a refreshed perspective of your brands’ values, purpose and identity


And High Food Fashion takes this one step further — ’cause if you really want to change the way consumers see you, you’ll probably have to break a few rules! Mainstream names like McDonald’s and KFC are flipping the script and generating next-level consumer hype in the process. Forget limited edition menu items, limited edition fashion drops are the bigger mic drop for brands

All-day comfort to accompany all-day breakfast (7-Eleven), sustainable trail shoes for lovers of beer & planet (Merrell x Dogfish Head Brewery), and Fried Chicken Crocs with high fashion edge – and removable, chicken-scented Jibbitz™ charms (KFC x Crocs ft. MLMA)

A striking billboard or clever piece of print may have been enough in the era of Mad Men, but the days of static & staid consumer interactions are long gone. Brands achieved a new sense of dynamism with the rise of digital marketing that extended the when, where and how of consumer interactions


Food Fashion takes it back to analogue, but in a more high-touch way


The fleeting experience of eating Chicken Nuggets on your couch or a Dunkin’ Donut in your car is replaced with something of permanence – a throw pillow, a matching phone case / tumbler combo


Merch makes brands a constant in consumers’ worlds. These are tangible, non-perishable pieces of a brand that consumers choose to interact with in more moments, new places, and different ways. And this move from occasional to ongoing is bound to impact mental availability

Chicken Nugget Body Pillow (Travis Scott x McDonald’s), Puffer iPhone Case and Acrylic Sparkle Tumbler (Charli x Dunkin’)

Have you suffered with what Anxiety expert Dr. Margarent Wehrenberg calls ‘behavioral anhedonia’ in the last 12 months? If you’ve struggled to find pleasure in things that once brought you joy, then the answer is yes! (sorry!)


The pandemic sent most of us looking for novelty to break up the monotony of lockdown, and viral content like pancake cereal, 6-second choreography, and cake memes came to the rescue. Outlandish humor and moments of absurd surprise & delight became a lifeline for consumers — and apps like TikTok and Instagram were the raft on which to float


Though a “return to normal” is closer than ever, the call for lighthearted absurdity isn’t slowing and Food Fashion is a way for brands to answer the call


Any other year, unusual offers like Dunkin’ bridal wear or Oscar Mayer bacon-scented shoelaces would probably be reserved for hardcore fans, but in the time of COVID they’re merch for the masses. Brands aren’t just acknowledging the disappointments and frustrations of COVID-19, they’re serving up excess and entertainment to consumers’ glee and deep appreciation


‘Cause if the pandemic forced you to stay indoors for 12 months and / or get married without the people or party you’d hoped for, then having your shoes smell like sizzling bacon or wearing a donut themed veil might just be the quirky cherry-on-top you need to make your masked-up day extra special

Bridal veil and Groom Bow-tie (Dunkin’), Limited-Edition bacon-scented shoelaces (Oscar Mayer)

Authenticity, awareness, and action. That’s what we think of when we think of GenZ – the generation that seemingly figured out how to play the game of life much faster than the rest of us and are ready to call b*llsh*t the moment they see it


When it comes to brands, GenZ are looking to say something about who they are. They recognize that reality is constructed (hard not to when you come of age with social media) and are confident curators of their own self-image – exhibit A: ‘finstas’


Food fashion delivers against this desire for intentionally unapologetic self-expression


From Fast Food and Snacking, to Iced Tea and Ice Cream, brands are leaning into the abrasive originality this generation embodies. Partnering with streetwear labels and contemporary icons like Travis Scott, MLMA, and other social media figures to meet GenZ on their terms and really speak their language

Instant noodles, but make it cute AF (Nissin Foods x Sanrio – Hello Kitty and Gudetama), a limited-edition merchandise drop from rapper Travis Scott that continues to trend as resales soar (McDonald’s x Travis Scott / Cactus Jack), and a reminder to stay playful from your favorite sandwich cookie brand and an array of Instagram influencers (Oreo x Elvis)

Millennials are misunderstood. In the last decade mainstream media has turned its nose up at this generation’s love of nostalgic trends and innovative ideas, depicting them as immature, shallow, and unwilling to ‘grow up’


In actuality, Millennials aren’t so bad (and I’m not just saying that ‘cause I am one…). They’re a generation that values curiosity and transparency, social-consciousnesses, and is fully tuned into the connective power of technology – for better or worse. Maybe deep down they (okay, we…. (fine, I…)) just want recognition and to return to the carefree days of childhood, but is that really so bad?


Either way, Food Fashion that caters to the Millennial mindset drives greater emotional resonance


Enter, Chipotle. The national QSR chain’s recent move into swag – or ‘Goods’ as they call it – deftly meets Millennials’ hunger for consuming a cause with a side of social badging, while their fashion-adjacent collaboration with beauty brand E.l.f. evokes the beauty and joy of a 90’s childhood. When chokers came back in style Millennials let out a collective sigh of nostalgia — and a branded oversized scrunchie, bucket hat, or burrito-station—inspired eyeshadow palette is likely to evoke the same response

Naturally dyed Tshirts and totes that make the most of the avocado pits discarded by Chipotle chains across the nation, and beauty products that inspire hunger, but are not intended for consumption (Chipotle x E.l.f).
Below: the perfect 90’s bucket hat / mock-turtle / hoop combo (Oreo x Elvis)

Food Fashion may not be brand new to the world (these Taco Bell socks probably have a few holes by now…), but it’s a force to be reckoned with

— and compounded by the simultaneous rise of ‘celebrity’ collaborations and Foodie Beauty globally!


It signals that the game is heating up for brands. Sure, consumers know your brand and buy your products – but do they like, follow, share and WEAR you? 


Design has a huge role to play in reimagining how consumers engage with and experience your brand — whether or not you’re ready to launch a line of ‘lewks’

If you’re unsure how to handle the heat, don’t get out of the kitchen, get in touch!


Disclaimer: the author of this blogpost fully admits to not knowing if she’s used the term ‘Stan’ correctly. Please direct any complaints to trolls@thebigpicture.agency