The Rhude collaboration—rooted in high-fashion, internet hype culture, and kitchen appliances that make cooking at home incredibly easy—simmers at the center of this theory. Rhude founder and creative director Rhuigi Villasenor aimed to create a wide range of products that appealed to everyone regardless of gender. “I think that kitchen brands have always had a strong appeal for men, but we’ve just now taken note as we’ve been spending more time at home, taking the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the small, everyday moments that were previously overlooked by so many,” he says.
Woldy Reyes is also no stranger to brand partnerships and fashion in the kitchen. In many of his Instagram posts, the chef shares a recipe, gets a fit off, or both. He argues that whatever stigma about men not being in the kitchen is long gone by now. “I think people got comfortable being in the kitchen over the last year and over time built up the confidence to experiment with different kitchen wares,” Woldy says. “At this point where we are currently, brands should start thinking broadly, meaning they shouldn’t approach their products in a binary mindset but more of non-binary approach where it appeals to everyone regardless of their sex.”
Another frequent streetwear collaborator, Tekla, began steering its linens toward the kitchen as the pandemic changed the way we look at group meals. “We have had the idea for some time, and during the lockdown we changed our perspective on the kitchen, setting a table, and the importance of getting together,” explains Kristoffer Juhl, managing director at Tekla. “Laying down the tablecloth, the napkins… These gestures are all part of the coming together, an act now more famous than ever.”
Last summer, Tekla teamed up with the streetwear brand Stussy on a collection of sleepwear and bedding. “A great collaboration is often the one that leaves you with a feeling of surprise in the two brands coming together, which is then followed by an aha! moment, because it makes total sense that they did,” Kristoffer says. “That’s how we feel about our partnership with Stussy—it was perhaps a surprise to some, but for most, it hopefully felt very natural, bringing the best of both worlds together.”
Ghetto Gastro, a New York-based culinary collective, is very familiar with the art of a hype-based product launch. Since 2012, the collective has partnered with the likes of Marvel Studios, Williams Sonoma, and Crux on designs for toasters, air fryers, indoor grills, and other appliances. Many of these product designs are simple with black-and-white features accented by a powerful shade of red.
“There’s definitely been a problematic patriarchal narrative of a woman’s place being in the kitchen, but I’d like to think that is ancient history,” says Ghetto Gastro cofounder Jon Gray. He argues that brands use psychographic segmentation to appeal to different types of people when it comes to kitchen products, but the collective tries to “design for our tastes with the hope that other people are looking for what we think has been missing in the game.” As Jon concludes, “We don’t consider gender binaries when we create. We just strive to make a product that we think is dope, and we hope our community feels the same way.”