Making food fashionable
On 4th February this year, during the American Super Bowl, the account for orange-flavoured drink Sunny Delight tweeted: “I can’t do this anymore”. While the message was probably related to the low-scoring sports match, the idea of a mega-brand suffering a bout of depression intrigued the online community, and the message quickly went viral.
This was not an isolated incident. In today’s competitive landscape, brands are expected not just to deliver, but also to infuse their marketing with a personality. (On a related note, we put together some of our favourite brand identities here.) The thinking goes that customers want to be able to consider their favourite brands like a friend, with a similar aesthetic or sense of humour.
If you run a restaurant, the easiest way to communicate this identity outside of social media is by having eye-catching restaurant uniforms. It’s a crucial part of the impression you give customers, and it doesn’t have to be boring chef whites anymore – by creating personalised workwear, you can give staff something more exciting to wear while underscoring your brand identity at the same time.
Here at ICON, we’ve worked with some of the shining lights in London’s food scene. (Take a look at our guide for how to create great branded workwear, and these tips from food stall success story Butchies, whose excellent t-shirts feature below.) Here are some of our favourites.
One of the classiest branding ventures in the capital’s recent restaurant history, the round-shouldered Bao man, hunched over his dumpling, has launched an Insta-friendly tote bag phenomenon and inspired thousands to step through their doors and start stuffing their faces.
These experts in buttermilk fried chicken have graduated from food stall to permanent spot in Shoreditch, and they hired ICON to create these classy black t-shirts emblazoned with a line drawing of a chicken in bold red.
The queues snaking through Borough Market for lunch at this affordable pasta spot prove it’s a quality choice, and their simple uniforms echo what makes their food so appealing — a sense of refined simplicity made with only the best ingredients.
We’re proud to count this infamous palace of pizza as a longtime ICON client, whose thick, New York-style slabs of sizzling ‘za have slowly been taking over London, starting with their original Dalston home, with more recent outposts set up in Shoreditch and Peckham. The management is also involved in some of the city’s best club nights. The bold graphics on their t-shirts include a groan-worthy pun that brings undeniable joy.
This little coffee spot has a pared back aesthetic and is home to Camberwell’s art students and cake-connoisseurs, and cleverly plays on South London loyalty in the design of its t-shirts.
Smithfield’s foodie haunt, which has quietly, confidently held a Michelin star since 2009, has a graphic identity perfectly in keeping with its old-fashioned appeal: a cross-hatched sketch of a pig fit for a butcher, with each part labeled and the trotters already sliced off. Can be found on t-shirts, aprons, and, somewhat unsettlingly, baby grows.
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St. JOHN in Paris: our catwalk debut, courtesy of @commedesgarcons @junyawatanabeofficial. Work jacket, tote bag, t-shirt (not shown). And that blue-jacketed, St. JOHN-tote-bag-slinging boy-next-door? The opening look, no less. Junya Watnabe Man Spring/Summer 2020 collection. A proud moment for a minimal, modest little runway piggy. . Photographs courtesy of @voguemagazine. . . . . . . #mensfashionweek #junyawatnabe #commedesgarcons #parisfashionweek #stjohn #stjohnrestaurant #fashioncollaborations #menswear #fergushenderson #parisrunway #nosetotail
Another spot to capitalise on its South London location, this franchise of neighbourhood chicken shops cannily twinned itself with hipster institutions like Balamii Radio to bring in a new group of customers. It feels like a truly local venture with tongue-in-cheek t shirts, although you won’t always see the fry cooks sporting them under their greasy aprons.
What screams Sri Lankan food better than the image that Hoppers have on their chef whites? A shirtless man carrying a piping hot speciality dosa, flying through the air, presumably towards your table, with his ample belly in the lead.
An audiophile listening bar with its aesthetic rooted in the 70s and its technology slavishly devoted to music’s analog age, this trendy spot has a t-shirt sporting their hypnotic logo, halfway between a rave smiley face and the psychedelic double helix of a music lover’s DNA.
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Launching tomorrow – we've collaborated with Tokyo premium streetwear designers Bedwin & The Heartbreakers to produce a limited run of high-quality, super comfortable sweatshirts (75 per colourway). Ensure you're signed up to our newsletter (website link in bio) and we'll send you a link the moment they're live. • • • • • • #Spiritland #ComeHomeToMusic #KingsCross #CoalDropsYard @kingscrossn1c @coaldropsyard #Southbank #SouthbankCentre @southbankcentre @southbank.london @bedwin_official
Need personalised workwear for your restaurant? At ICON Printing we offer fast turnaround merch and uniform printing, counting clients from Voodoo Rays to Butchies. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.