Food plays an increasingly important role in the fashion world. Fashion stores with a coffee corner, clothes based on a dish, or vice versa, recipes based on fashion: it’s all equally hip. Why do entrepreneurs choose a combination of food and fashion? And is an eatery in a clothing store profitable? Perhaps stores that offer clothing like Fairycore outfits will soon follow this type of trend.
It is an ongoing trend to combine fashion with food
The ever-increasing role of food in the fashion world can be seen in, among others, the Japanese Uniqlo, which combines fashion and food with social media to reach their young, hip target group. In the recently launched app ‘Uniqlo Recipe’, recipes with outfits are combined using structures and colors. While cooking your favorite meal, you can immediately order the corresponding outfit, via the app.
In her article ‘Food is the new fashion’ on Huffingtonpost.com, the famous cookbook author Martha Stewart noted a change in food’s role in our lives a few years ago. It is no longer simply one of the great joys of life. “Food is a form of expression of one’s own identity,” says the cooking legend, “just like a pair of Louboutins or a vintage garment or accessory. The term foodie now evokes, just like a fashionista, a complete lifestyle.”
“Fashion combined with food is a trend that has indeed been going on for some time,” says Huib Lubbers, owner of consulting firm Retail Management Center (RMC), “and it’s a trend that continues.” The Dutch advisor calls today’s shopper ‘a convenience consumer who goes for comfort’: due to a growing shortage of free time, we prefer to do as many fun things as possible at the same time and we also like to shop more efficiently to save time. Uniqlo’s app responds to this by keeping everything under one button.
The Amsterdam label LikeThis also combines fashion and food into a whole. The latest collection consists of garments with a recipe on the washing label. The recipes were devised by the also Amsterdam chef Jaime Van Heije who was inspired by the color of each garment. For example, a yellow dress contains a recipe with corn and Parmesan cheese, while a green jacket is combined with peas. Designer of LikeThis and creator of the project called LikeDish, Urs Hasham, says in a phone call that food is becoming increasingly important. People want to eat healthier and fairer. Just like the designer herself, who gets excited about food: “I wanted to be a cook as a little girl. Food makes me happy!”
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The consumer wants to consciously deal with fashion and food
Eateries are very profitable, according to Huib Lubbers of RMC. The margins in the hospitality industry are large: “A cup of coffee that you make for 20 cents, you can easily sell for 2 euros – or the tenfold.” “Entrepreneurs in fashion are investing massively in a café, restaurant, or coffee corner,” says Lubbers. He advises every fashion entrepreneur to place at least one food or coffee table in the store, including the smaller entrepreneurs who now usually only organize something small-scale such as a VIP evening with food. “It’s a sales trick that extends the residence time in the store. Just like getting the customer into the fitting room. The longer you are in the store, the more you spend.”
When asked whether a café area is indeed more profitable than an extra clothes rack, Sarah van Rij, store manager at café/clothing store Hutspot in Amsterdam, answers: “Hutspot is a store with a large surface area and therefore a lot of clothing. Of course, we could hang more clothes, but we never thought about whether that would generate more sales. Hutspot wants to offer a complete concept.” According to Van Rij, there is an increasing demand for total concepts, such as the popular concept stores.
At Hutspot, it indeed appears that a longer residence time in the building increases the sales opportunity: “A customer who is in doubt about a sweater, comes upstairs in our café to eat something and can still pick up the sweater later,” explains Bas Beijer, café manager at Hutspot. Sarah van Rij adds: “In terms of turnover, it will not make much difference whether we opt for a café or even more clothing. People are increasingly coming to the café to work or meet, for example. These customers may not all go directly into the store, but they do create a nice atmosphere. As a result, more customers from the store also come to the café.”
Products from the restaurant or café do not necessarily have to connect to the clothing in the store, says Bas Beijer. Nevertheless, he prefers to work with local, responsible products. For example, the coffee beans used come from an Amsterdam coffee roaster. “This fits well with the young, creative, and local labels that hang in the shopping area,” says Bas Beijer.
The trend is far from over: Urs Hasham of LikeThis, for example, would like to work with a local, organic supermarket in the future. In this way, the designer hopes to contribute to a fairer world, by bringing fashion and food together.