Burgers Are Big

Are you buyin’ it?

 

Junya Watanabe burger teeJunya Watanabe Man T-shirt featuring a Diego’s Burgers, at DSMS. Photo: Zhao Xiangji

By Gambier Tan

I have never really been a meat guy. Sure, I do have a weakness for bak kut teh and bak kwa, but not to the point where, if I were to open a restaurant, I would name it The Meathouse. I am also not a burger guy, a lot less so after watching the 2004 Academy Awards-nominated documentary Super Size Me in which director Morgan Spurlock subjected himself willingly to a full month of subsistence on nothing but what’s in the extensive menu of McDonald’s. I enjoy food too much, anyone who knows me will tell you, to put myself through such punishing restrictions.

Which means you may understand my grappling to grasp the current fascination with burgers as motifs to gussy up clothing or items to grace a pad. Of course there’s nothing wrong with announcing to the world a love for food that allows you to be gastronomically inclusive by accumulating fat in the liver. Well-piled burgers, now redeemed by the prefix wagyu, with their layered goodness are so much sexier than a bunch of celery. Its all rather reality-discombobulating to me—I feel like I am waking up to a Michael Chiang play-turn-TV-series in which the real mixed signal is the protagonist, still from Batu Pahat, persisting to cook fried rice when she’s really better at kong bak pao.

One burger-themed T-shirt that caught my eye recently was a crew neck by Junya Watanabe (above). On the chest was a happy, personified burger that looked like an illustration one would find among the many offerings in Bugis Street that are stacked to appeal to souvenir hunters on a budget (and understandably so—if you’re travelling on the world’s most expensive city). But what’s Diego’s Burger or who’s Diego? Since, for expensive burgers, I know only of Shake Shack and the soon-to-be-here Five Guys, I decided to feed my curiosity by allowing Google to cough up what it knows about a chap who is not Dora the Explorer’s eight-year-old cousin. As it turns out, Diego is fake. Or, Diego in Buenos Aires is fake. There is a burger man Diego in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which Google also served up, is 11,384 km away from Argentina.

Madstore burger lamp.jpgMadstore burger lamp produced by Medicom Toys. Photo: Undercover/Madstore

Closer home and less to do with wearables is the Hamburger Lamp at Undercover’s Madstore. Conceived together with Medicom Toys of BE@RBRICKS fame, the table illuminator first appeared in 2002 and revived in 2015 (and again last fall), with rarity characterising every release. And those fangs too. So in demand was the lamp when it was made available here last week that Club 21 (the retailer behind Madstore’s much awaited entrance here) restricted the purchase of a total of 25 pieces to 25 individuals by stipulating that “a minimum spend of $300 will guarantee each customer the opportunity to purchase only 1 lamp”. Quite a condition for a model that is not nearly “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun”.

When it comes to hamburgers, the most recognisable name on earth, despite its celebrated standing with dietitians, is McDonald’s. Here, even after forty years of selling Big Macs without any decline in popularity, McDonald’s saw that it needed to be in the fashion game as well. On the 3rd of last month, the home of the discontinued Quarter Pounder (since December 2017) made an announcement on Instagram that they’ll be taking the wraps off “a new collection that’ll make nights in even better”. What could that be, I wondered at that time, other than new chicken burgers for supper?

It was soon revealed that McD was to release “loungewear sets” for both men and women with orders of, interestingly not burgers, but McNuggets and McWings that are dubbed McDelivery Night in Bundle. As unsexy as that sounded, the response was overwhelming, with one IG commentator posting on McD’s page, “better than Gucci”! He clearly knows his fashion. Or perhaps the bundle is sexy, because the disappointment with not being able to score those lounge sets was so palpable that McD placated the unsuccessful with a second release. If that sounds like limited sneaker drops, I’d say you know your stuff.

McD pajama topMcDonald’s pajama top, part of the fast food giant’s ‘Loungewear Bundle’

McDonald’s didn’t even have to try too hard. The tops were in a micro-print of hamburgers and packs of French fries. This was accompanied by shorts in the yellow that is the Golden Arches, which on the shorts was so saffron, they could have been worn as part of a PT kit in a monastery. I have always wondered why McD won’t resurrect the Hamburglar, that potentially creepy McDonaldland urchin whose burger-pilfering ways were always foiled by pal Ronald. Or any of his pals such as Grimace and Birdie. Hamburglar could work on T-shirts, just as Pillsbury Dough Boy still does.

But the burger—when did it debut in fashion? I don’t know, to be honest. If you really looked, food and fashion are, of course, intertwined. What’s good on the lips, as it usually turns out, is nice on the hips (or the feet, if you go by a certain pair of H&M socks). From the time Josephine Baker wore a skirt of 16 rubber bananas (during a 1926 performance of La Revue Nègre) to 1937, when Elsa Schiapparelli worked with images of the lobster (painted by Salvador Dalí, who, according to rumours at the time, wanted to spread real mayonnaise on the crustacean!) to the MTV Music Awards of 2010 when Lady Gaga donned a dress of real and very raw beef (which was later preserved as jerky and displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!), and everything between and after, anything that can be eaten can also be worn.

What will they think of next—a bubble tea skirt?

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