This spring, if your face smells like donuts and your outfit comes from a farmers market stand? Congratulations, you’re bang on-trend. As fashion and beauty brands seek to engage new customers in a social media-driven, post-pandemic economy, partnerships and collaborations teams are increasingly turning to food—including iconic restaurant brands and flavorful experiences—to lure shoppers back to brick-and-mortar retail.
Last month, when British bakery chain Greggs debuted a collaboration with fast fashion retailer Primark in the UK, fans of pasties queued up for hours to score the logo-emblazoned loungewear. Not long after Coach announced its Zabar’s capsule collection—comprising bagel-printed luxury tees, sweaters, and totes—nearly every single item sold out online. And this week, two megabrands in the beauty and fashion space enter the fray with retail concepts and in-store activations themed around food.
Today, at its Times Square flagship, Levi’s debuts Levi’s Fresh—a demi-revival of the brand’s own 1970s Fresh Produce collection, which was inspired by (you guessed it) fresh produce. To drive home messaging around the colorful new launch, which is produced using natural plant and mineral dyes as well as water-saving techniques, Levi’s has partnered with Pressed to provide loyalty program members with free juices at seven of its flagship locations across the country. On the west coast, the brand teamed up with Tastemade to create a Levi’s Fresh installation at Smorgasburg Los Angeles—which features a mini farmers market, an Amazebowls juice bar, and the I Love Micheladas VW Bus.
Meanwhile, on the beauty front, e.l.f. cosmetics—which, over nearly two decades, has built a die-hard fan base around its core collection of minimalist, utilitarian, affordable drugstore products—will debut a partnership with Dunkin’ at a limited-time-only e.l.f. x Dunkin’ pop-up shop, produced by Shadow, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, at 414 W. 14th St. in New York’s swishy Meatpacking District. The collaboration, which sprang from an overwhelming community response to a makeup challenge the brand posed last year in its TikTok reality show Eyes.Lips.Famous., follows in the footsteps of another unlikely bedfellow: the fast-casual chain Chipotle, which e.l.f. teamed up with last year to create a burrito, chips, and guacamole-inspired eyeshadow palette.
“At e.l.f., when we think about collaborations, we’re looking for like-minded disruptors that want to force-multiply with us,” e.l.f. Beauty Chief Brand Officer Gayitri Budhraja tells Fast Company. “What we want to do is build brands that disrupt industry norms, shape culture, and connect communities through inclusivity, positivity, and accessibility.”
As for the Dunkin’ collab, the confluence of both brands’ loyal followings along with TikTok-driven social media buzz and excitement for a post-pandemic IRL immersive shopping experience is the perfect recipe for a retail sugar high.
“The love is in the details,” Budhraja says. “The collection was inspired by the iconic donut boxes and iconic pink and orange logo. Nods to the brand also include that each product is sealed with the same time-of-order receipts that come with your Dunkin’ order—and they’re also inspired by the shapes, textures, and scents that all scream Dunkin’.”