Food as Fashion: The Next Foray for Private Brands

Opportunities are ripe to turn shoppers into advocates.

Spring Fashion Week is officially in full swing, and while the traditional narrative may be focused on ready-to-wear and new designers on the scene, we at Daymon can’t help but talk food, private brands and what these things have to do with the coveted New York City event.

Like your wardrobe, your food shopping journey and grocery list are now markers of your personal style, identity and values. Your plate and pantry have become vehicles for self-expression. Culinary artistry is overtaking Pinterest boards and Instagram profiles as new sources of social media currency. There has also been a shift in the modern-day lifestyle that has allowed for a symbiotic relationship to grow between “workplace wardrobe” and “cubicle gourmet.”

Just as fashionable pieces have overtaken the traditional work suit to better align with today’s lifestyle, a new era of elevated lunches have slowly crept into the office space. Today, office-goers, particularly young professionals, are stocking everything in their cubicles from salad scissors to ready-to-cook ingredients such as those found in meal kit subscriptions. And, they’re using these tools to make on-trend foodie lunches that represent their lifestyle as much as their outfits do.

Irrespective of demographics and generational cohorts, consumers today aspire to higher-quality food experiences. As was the case in fashion, consumer meals have gotten more sophisticated, and sharing food narratives and dining experiences has become the new pastime of choice. While “food as fashion” is not a new concept (luxury retailers figured that out a while ago), the intersection between the two has stood the test of time, and everyday mainstream food retail has taken notice.

To wit:

  • In September, during New York Fall Fashion Week, value-oriented supermarket chain Lidl debuted a fashion line, called Esmara, with Heidi Klum that is now available globally.
  • Taco Bell launched a limited-edition clothing line with fast fashion retailer Forever 21 in October that showcased Taco Bell’s graphic hot sauce packaging design on a body suit and the iconic Taco Bell emblem on hoodies.
  • Kraft, maker of Stove Top Stuffing, launched Stove Top Thanksgiving Dinner Stretchy Pants in preparation for the holiday season. The pants were equipped with a stretchy waistband covered in images of Stove Top stuffing and XXL stuffing-print pockets to stash away leftovers.
  • Italian pasta brand Di Martino also partook in the trend when it teamed up with Dolce & Gabbana to create a limited-edition pasta line with packaging designed by the storied fashion house. This isn’t the first time the fashion house has combined fashion and carbs, either. In its Spring 2017 runway show, there was both an ice cream cone dress and a pasta dress, making this a natural fit.

As food retailers refocus their attention on strengthening their private brand portfolios, food as fashion offers a new pathway for innovation. But do grocery private brands need to literally get into the apparel space to capitalize on this trend? Not necessarily, because it’s not just about apparel.

New private brand products featuring Instagrammable color combinations, unique texture blending, unexpected pairings, table-worthy presentations and artistic packaging all provide a different way to connect with shoppers and their lifestyles. Even strategic design-based partnerships can be used to leverage this trend. Just last month, McDonald’s tapped fashion designer Anna Sui to create limited-edition red envelopes, which are traditionally filled with money and shared as gifts in China, for its multipronged campaign to mark the Chinese New Year.

As you can see, the synergies between food and fashion are clear—the challenge now is for private brands to use this trend to turn their shoppers into private brand advocates.


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