Greggs is once again showcasing its sartorial prowess by collaborating with Primark for a second time. Primark will begin selling bucket hats, bumbags, cycling shorts, and hoodies with the name of the steak bake vendor on August 5.
The sellers hope to replicate the success of their first partnership, which debuted in February and reportedly sold for three times its initial price on eBay within a week of its release.
Improbable alliances are the bread and butter of fashion cooperation. “It’s all about catching the customer off guard, whether it’s Burberry x Vivienne Westwood, Supreme x Louis Vuitton, or Balenciaga x The Simpsons,” explains Anthony McGrath, course leader in fashion marketing at London College of Fashion and publisher of the Men’s Style Blog.
It is the most recent of a series of commercial logos that have humorously appeared on clothing in recent years. In luxury fashion, items resembling bootlegs have been selling for eye-watering prices – from the now-infamous 2016 T-shirt by Vetements that featured the logo of global logistics company DHL and sold for £185, to a Balenciaga bag that resembled Ikea’s practical blue Frakta bag but cost more than £1,500 rather than 50p – with wearers hoping to communicate an in-the-know wink through their wardrobes.
In recent years, labels in the streetwear industry have also returned to the 1990s trend of altering common logos. The Tottenham label Sports Banger, for instance, created a cult classic by printing on a T-shirt the emblem of the Doncaster company Heras, which manufactures rave and festival fences.
The appeal of this partnership may not hinge on sarcasm, but rather on genuine affection for Greggs. “It works because the British has a soft place for Greggs,” explains Matt Poile, deputy foresight editor at The Future Laboratory, a strategic consulting firm. It is a brand with its superfans, and independent vendors were selling earrings in the shape of sausage rolls even before there was an official collection.
Poile states, “It’s perceived as an unpretentious and economical brand, and people want to associate themselves with this everyday quality.” This is perhaps more true at a time when elitism dominates national discourse; a bumbag with a sausage roll on it couldn’t be further from a prime ministerial candidate wearing Prada loafers if it tried.
Greggs is also, surprisingly, regarded as a respectable brand. “Despite being a major business in the United Kingdom, it nevertheless manages to create a sense of modest egalitarianism,” says The Face magazine editor Matthew Whitehouse. A steak bake, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, is a steak bake. In addition, he continues, citing worker bonuses and complimentary breakfasts for elementary kids, “the corporation appears to be exceptionally well-run.”
Primark, which does not pay the “real living wage” in the United Kingdom and has been criticized for alleged mistreatment of garment workers abroad, has not always been held to the same standard. But the Greggs name will be prominently displayed on the apparel.
“Those wearing the garments can make fun of high fashion and be proud of who they are: straightforward, genuine, and unafraid to be themselves,” says BrandOpus’ chief creative officer Paul Taylor. “When you wear a fast food chain’s insignia, you’re giving a middle finger to food and fashion snobbery,” or “you’re flipping the bird to those who look down on fast food.”
Sabrina Faramarzi, a cultural trends specialist and the founder of the analytics and trends consultancy Dust in Translation, sees it as an example of “Generation Z’s tendency to elevate the specialized. Whereas millennials venerated unachievable influencers, Generation Z prefers local heroes.
It is an intelligent move by both retailers. Even if, like McGrath, you have no intention of purchasing Greggs’s cycling shorts, “people are talking about this collection, so it’s creating a buzz,” he says. According to Poile, “they are goods designed to be photographed and shared on social media, similar to wearing a meme.”
According to Faramarzi, humor is also vital. “Life feels overwhelmingly bad right now. “Fashion is about escape, community, and maybe even a touch of nostalgia for simpler times – like taking a break with a warm cheese and onion pasty.”