Ready-to-wear meets ready-to-eat? Yummy collaborations by Malaysian designers

Local designers are bringing their own "flavour" into things that you can literally sink your teeth in. Photo: Love18C

You've heard of big names in the style industry collaborating with each other, but what about when they branch out into other markets? Fashion and food seems to be a favourite pairing here in Malaysia.

In the past, we have seen food companies extending their branding into clothing lines. Now local designers are launching food products, bringing their own "flavour" into things that you can literally sink your teeth in.

Artisanal dessert brand Creme De La Creme recently got Khoon Hooi to come up with a new ice-cream flavour. Named Cream Couture, it comprises chrysanthemum ice-cream paired with chocolate-coated goji berries.

"The creative process behind both food and fashion involves inspiration, a willingness to experiment, the selection of tools – fabric or ingredients," Khoon Hooi comments.

Photo: Creme De La CremePhoto: Creme De La Creme"This latest co-branding also tells a story. It speaks about the love for all things oriental, and connects the consumer to an artisanal craft and tradition."

Read more: How has the cheongsam fared in the 21st century? Malaysian designers weigh in

Love18C, on the other hand, snagged Melinda Looi. The handmade chocolate brand worked with the designer to release a collection of meaningful "art" creations.

"Who doesnt like to eat?" Looi asks, admiting that she loves to cook. Her chocolates feature luxe (some would even say unique) flavours like caramel earl grey, cinnamon chilli and ginger.

"Food is very much like fashion... it is about style, colours, taste and packaging. Most creative people are good in cooking or have a sense of flavours," she claims.

In good taste

The pairing of food and fashion is not something unique to Malaysia. Last year saw a rise of collaborations between the two industries internationally.

Perhaps the most talked about is the fried chicken bucket crocs. While the design spawned countless jokes, it apparently sold out a mere 30 minutes after being released.

The Ben & Jerry's sneakers was also a huge hit in 2020. Borrowing the familiar colour palette from the namesake ice-cream carton, it was psychedelic and funky.

Fashion then began going all out in embracing everything food (and beverage) related.

Some publications even used the term "foodie fashionista" – which could very well be an oxymoron, if the belief that fashion people don't eat is taken to be true.

On the local front, we have long seen numerous fashion labels drawing from food to really remind us that Malaysians do love eating.

Duck Scarves paid tribute to local snacks four years ago. Its Yummy collection was inspired by the traditional seri muka, kuih lapis and kuih koci.

KFC worked with Pestle & Mortar Clothing in 2019. The resulting streetwear collection celebrated Malaysia, as well as its people, culture and relationship with the fried chicken franchise.

Both the collections from Duck Scarves and Pestle & Mortar Clothing were well received, drawing long lines when launched and selling out within days.

Read more: These Malaysian designers are passionate in keeping traditional batik alive

While not exactly something you can eat, these collaboration were symbolic of a beautiful relationship. It also showed that fashion can be relatable – if not something as essential as food.

That said, it would be nice to see more partnerships (like in the case of Creme De La Creme and Love18C) that give us a taste of a designer's palate.

A little less food-inspired fashion, and instead, lots more fashion-inspired food? Surely, Malaysians will rejoice at that.

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