Coffee ‘n Clothes: Instagram Delight, Practical Disaster

Originally just an online trend, this brick-and-mortar cafe blends coffee and clout.

Located at 11 Bond St., Coffee ‘n Clothes is a fashion-inspired cafe that started as a trending hashtag and grew into its own brand, part of a new trend of blending offline and online experiences. (Photo by Hanna McNeila)

Amid the influx of SoHo’s designer streetwear shops, Coffee ‘n Clothes’ on 11 Bond St. combines luxury fashion with New Yorkers’ favorite caffeinated beverage. Decor and mugs branded with Supreme, Jordan, Bape and Versace logos give the cafe the illusion of a hypebeast heaven.

The name is somewhat misleading: there’s no retail component to the cafe. A trending hashtag in 2014 that grew from numerous Instagrammers posting their aesthetic drinks, Coffee ‘n Clothes went from being a media marketing company to a full-fledged cafe that opened a permanent location in March on the ground floor of the multimedia-inspired store Showfields. 

Latte art is typical of any quality coffee shop, and Coffee ‘n Clothes goes above and beyond by printing popular brand logos, including Chanel, Comme des Garçons and Balenciaga, onto its coffee and baked goods. However, while the store brands itself as an innovative idea for the media world that blends beauty with taste and offline experiences with online ones, Coffee ‘n Clothes at its core is all appearance and no substance. 

The shop delivers on neither of its promises — there are no clothes and the coffee is subpar. The barista recommended I steer clear of ordering a latte if I wanted an actual caffeine fix. While the logos that brand the food and drink are an inventive form of promotion, the small serving size of my coffee and its steep price made me wary of returning to Coffee ‘n Clothes.

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As I walked around the small space, I noticed that everyone had their phones out to document their experience — Coffee ‘n Clothes successfully targets an audience of tourists and Instagram influencers. Even if these customers share their pictures and tag the cafe, Coffee ’n Clothes can’t be expected to grow beyond its numerous Instagram followers. To them, the cafe is a photo op — a chance to wear Stüssy and drink Stüssy at the same time. I guess in this case, the saying is wrong; you actually wear what you eat. 

Coffee ‘n Clothes is not going to be your go-to coffee shop. Not suitable for studying, working or doing anything other than taking pictures, this is not a place I would frequently return to. Customers, however, cannot deny that this cafe offers a new way to drink coffee — or at least photograph it. 

A version of this article appears in the Monday, April 7, 2019, print edition. Email Hanna McNelia at [email protected]

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