You might not think it at first but the restaurant industry and the fashion industry have a hell of a lot in common. Both take something that’s ostensibly essential (clothing, food) and turn it into a luxury product – an inessential comfort that’s capable of making you feel really, really good about yourself.
As well as being two things that provide me with immense pleasure – and two things which eat away at my bank account at the rate that Pacman eats pellets – another facet that the fashion and food world have in common is that they’re both dominated by trends. Buffeted by the constant fluctuation of “what’s hot” and “what’s not”, chefs and fashion designers have always had to adjust the products they make by capitalising on trends like heroin chic or haute cuisine. Trends that they have, in part, helped to create and manufacture from the top-down.
In recent years, however, we’ve seen that an increasing number of trends have started coming from the bottom-up. The influx of influencers and the ever-increasing importance of social media has flipped the power dynamic between creator and consumer; professional chefs and fashion designers have, as a result, had to become reactive rather than creative. No longer the ones in charge of telling consumers what to eat or how to dress, they’re now at the mercy of whatever viral trend is happening on TikTok or Instagram. Teens with iPhones and side-partings are the new Anna Wintours of the fashion world and the same can be said for the ring-light toting food influencers that decide what cheesy monstrosity is going to be the most hyped item on your menu. I’m not saying that that’s necessarily a bad thing – it’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and the way you have to make sure to grab a quick snap of that molten chocolate cookie cross-section when it does. Food and fashion trends are now, whether we like it or not, dictated by those who consume it rather than those who make it.
Thankfully, amidst that filter-heavy mayhem and democratisation of what constitutes taste, brands like Service Works exist to provide some much-needed balance to the force. Looking to cater directly to the hard-working restaurant workers and people making your food behind the scenes, Service Works specialises in making fashionable and comfortable chef garments.
Born in 2020 out of owner Tom Chudley’s love for elasticated waists and good food, the brand has come on in leaps and bounds recently thanks – in no small part – to social media. They’ve collabed with shit-hot restaurants in London and have become something of the trouser du jour for anyone with a trendy up-and-coming small plates pop-up. Service Works exists exactly at the centre of a Venn diagram of interests between food and fashion hypebeasts.