How to save offline fashion retail is a common question asked and discussed in business. The answer? Make it an experience -- and consider food's natural fit to the human need to socialize, engage and interact.
While it’s trumpeted that technology has driven the consumer to “live online,” the opposite is actually true. More than ever, perhaps even due to technology, people are craving offline experiences and physical world connections.
The correlation between food and fashion isn’t new or novel. The earliest department stores in history often included eateries in their retail environments. Customers could relax, have a bite and socialize during shopping visits.
There is a dynamic to fashion and food --- and the reason is rooted in fundamental human needs.
What does wearing the latest fashion trend have in common with sharing a healthy meal? They are both “identity signaling” behaviors intended to effectively communicate desired identities.
Food has always been an experience to the consumer, but where and what people eat today is equally indicative of who they are and how they live as their fashion choices. Organic, elegant, classic, trendy -- the crossover between style and taste has never been more synchronized.
Both food and fashion are powerful markers of whom an individual is and how they want to be perceived by others in their lives.
Like all lifestyle categories, both food and fashion are highly creative and both tend to attract a similar consumer type. It’s an individual who appreciates creativity, enjoys fine craftsmanship, and notices details -- elements that are consistent across the dining table as well as the retail fashion shelf. There are trends, colors, textures, new ideas and time-honored classics.
Individually, food and fashion are both a combination of visual and sensory that delights and engages people, and ultimately moves them to transaction.
It’s not just limited to the creative consumer alone. Both food and fashion have always had a social component that equally draws those who seek to interact in the world around them. Not a “foodie” or “fashionista,” but a participant who seeks to be part of the scene, in the mix, around others. Shopping and eating are avenues to fulfill this need.
Fred Segal Melrose has long been a destination for tourists and natives of Los Angeles to shop boutique and luxury brands in addition to a popular lunch spot. The restaurant’s menu features upscale lunch and dinner favorites that fit the illustrious and creative aesthetic of its store. Guests rub elbows with the city’s elite and high profile as they relax in the restaurant’s open, airy dining room.
Perhaps one of the best places to look for future inspiration is none other than Tommy Bahama. The store pictured below is located in Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, Arizona. The menu offers Island-inspired dishes that embody the brand's identity and lifestyle in addition to retail shopping.
As their website reads, "Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar is perfect for everything from bridal showers and rehearsal dinners to corporate mixers and celebratory dinners. Your guests will relish this refreshing alternative to a boring ballroom or stuffy steakhouse. We also provide customizable menus featuring fresh seafood and local produce, skilled event professionals, live music, and unique floral-design services including leis and custom table settings."
For the consumers who seek ease and convenience, food and fashion retail concepts are a no brainer. The ability to streamline two popular functions into a single spot is appreciated. They’ll often select these environments over others.
For the retailer, a blend of fashion and food gives a greater ability to reach and immerse the customer in a richer, deeper brand experience and nurture the relationship. The same components that make the store and product dynamic can have a direct correlation and connection to what’s on the menu. It envelops the customer in a bigger sense and slice of a brand lifestyle. It also has the power to drive foot traffic and secondary revenue opportunity with a tighter, more exact and automatic reach.