Taco Bell, which once ran ads that urged customers to "make a run for the border," now wants them to also make a run for the dressing room.
In a coupling of fast food with fast fashion, the Mexican food chain is teaming with teen retailer Forever 21 to create a collection of its own bodysuits, sweatshirts and hoodies. Ultimately, the collaboration could help introduce each brand to a new group of customers in a new, surprising way.
"Forever 21’s collaboration with Taco Bell ... is a smart and relatively risk-free move to drive traffic to its online and physical stores,'' says Lauren Bitar, director, retail consulting with RetailNext which provides analytics on the industry. "Once shoppers get there, however, it’s paramount for Forever 21 to create an engaging, fulfilling shopping experience so these store visits won’t be one and done."
The odder the styling, the more popular the item is likely to be, Bitar says. "The more eye roll-worthy style will no doubt do better than the styles that are more serious,'' she says. "With attire like this, you go ridiculous or you go home."
Clothing and ball caps stamped with restaurant logos are free advertising, and the buzz around items that are only available for a limited time can spark a shopping rush.
Retail and restaurants have hooked up on clothing deals before. Pizza Hut, which is part of Yum Brands along with Taco Bell and KFC, sells its own line of T-shirts, hoodies and baseball caps. McDonald’s online Big Mac Shop hawks boots, raincoats and leggings inspired by the Golden Arches.
This latest limited-time collection of graphic t-shirts, jackets and pullovers marks Taco Bell’s first fashion collaboration. They will go on sale in some Forever 21 U.S. stores, as well as online, starting Oct. 11.
By rolling out a clothing collection with teen favorite Forever 21, Taco Bell can appeal to its most loyal customers and potentially attract new diners as well.
“We often think of Taco Bell as 'the fast fashion of food,’ given how we continuously introduce innovative limited edition products," Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell's chief marketing officer, said in a statement. The new clothing line is "extending the Taco Bell lifestyle to fashion ... creative, a little quirky and definitely fun.”
Meanwhile, Forever 21, still standing as rivals such as Rue 21 and Wet Seal have filed for bankruptcy protection, gets to connect with the young fans of a popular restaurant chain who will hopefully keep shopping even after they've picked up the limited collection.
“Food, like fashion, is driven by trends and culture,’’ Linda Chang, Forever 21’s vice president of merchandising, said in a statement. “Merging fashion and food in this collection gives our customers a new way to experience both our brands.”