Between the outpouring of cookbooks, YouTube channels, newsletters, and sponsorships from your favorite ex-representatives of the fallen Bon Appétit empire (my bad!), you’d be forgiven for overlooking the new source of revenue and fan engagement that is sweeping the cooking-influencer community: bean shirts.
Beans now enjoy a new, high-profile status as an emblem of proto-pandemic homesteading instead of flatulence. They’re considered a cozy, classy thing to eat, so now the clog-wearers are proudly declaring their love for the humble legume with their F/W 2021 wardrobes.
Alison Roman’s Brothy Beans long-sleeve tee comes plastered with a vivid photo of a ladleful of water being poured on some colorful heirloom beans. But just in case the graphic wasn’t immediately recognizable, the back reveals all, with “a big pot of brothy beans” printed over the left shoulder area, followed by the entire text of her recipe and a two paragraph introduction. “If there’s an argument for shelling and cooking your own beans...” it starts, but I stopped reading there because it was too much like an eye exam. But I would definitely read the whole thing if it was on the back of the person in front of me at Whole Foods.
If you spot one of these bean shirts in the wild, take note: this shirt, in addition to the shirt and sweatshirt commemorating Roman’s viral cookie and shallot pasta recipes, sold out almost as quickly as it was announced. Very hypebean.
But there are still options if you need to bean on-trend. Former BA staffer and current recipe developer Colu Henry’s bean tees are a little more austere. Instead of an essay, recipe, or photo, the shirt gets right down to the point, with a slogan for “white beans” emblazoned across the chest. If the shirt only said “beans,” it would seem like just a joke, but the specificity adds a gourmet edge. Still, I can’t help but wonder about the type of person who would wear their preference for a white bean on their chest versus, say, a black bean. Something to think about.
Although the message is brief, the white bean shirt comes in two different colorways — a gray tee with white flocking or a gray tee with blue flocking. There is even a heather sweatshirt version (a steal at $39), so you can layer your white bean shirts like flavors in a cassoulet.
Finally, there is former Test Kitchen star and Kaiser of Caesar salad Molly Baz’s bean shirt. It’s the least conventionally attractive of the three, but, on the other hand, you can pay for it in four interest-free installments with ShopPay. Times are tough.
While the first two options attempt to glamorize the humble legume with crisp photography or represent it more formally in text, Baz’s shirt lacks the same styleability, starting with a long-sleeved beany-khaki tee that is flattering on no one, but is good for hiding stains. It’s hard to explain what’s going on with the design, which layers a mathematical motif with vintage typography that reads “soak the beans,” among other things, and illustrations of a bisected bean, sliced ham, and a clove of garlic in a low-contrast shade of tan ink.
According to the description it is “a visual representation” of “a pot of those magical beans.” I don’t know why the visual representation has to be less attractive than an actual bowl of cooked beans, but sure.
It all begs the question: What is the bean shirt agenda? Mere merch for extra income and personal brand-building? Something to pack for a trip to Boston? Or the sign of more bean streetwear to come? Only time will tell.