LONDON — There’s an unusual new cult fashion item in town: Deliveroo jackets.
The visually striking uniforms worn by couriers for the London food delivery company have quietly developed a reputation in some circles as a niche fashion item, and are being traded online on streetwear forums.
If you’ve been in London — or any other city Deliveroo operates in — in the last six or so months, you’ve probably seen the jackets on the backs of bike couriers. Unlike UberEats’ dark uniform, Deliveroo’s is highly distinctive — a trademark teal, with a reflective slanted upper.
By day, it’s bold and colourful. By night, its upper gleams, brightly reflecting streetlights and car headlamps. It’s a combination that’s making waves among some alternative enthusiasts. Wavey Garms is a British Facebook page with 70,000 members dedicated to selling both new and vintage streetwear, and Deliveroo jackets now pop up on the page with increasing frequency.
‘It looks pretty sick’
“I’ve been to a few legal and illegal raves and I’ve seen people wear the jacket so thought as others were selling it on the page I may as well try,” one seller, Ashley, told Business Insider. “The material is like [ultraviolet] or reflective or whatever so when the lights are on you it looks pretty sick.”
Deliveroo unveiled the jackets as part of a bigger rebranding in September 2016. Couriers are expected to pay a £150 deposit for it and the other gear (shirts, a thermal box, and so on) — but 19-year-old Ashley says he was never charged, so he held onto the jacket.
He has worn his jacket out himself before: “A girl said to me it looked sick under the lights.”
Jake, 16, bought a jacket specifically for a party. “It was an animal themed house party with around 80 people. I wore it with some Supreme x playboy joggers to get laughs out of people but also for a partly ‘wavy’ look i guess,” he said.
“Most people were just saying ‘that’s brilliant’ or ‘I rate that’ and the rest would ask why I was wearing it or if I worked at deliveroo.”
He bought it for £50, then sold it on for £45 within hours of listing it for sale online. “I had at least 15 people enquire about it but I waited for the higher price offer.”
Fashion is obsessed with workwear
Fashion has always borrowed from and fetishised workwear — from denim’s origins in American labourers’ garments to “heritage” brands like Red Wing. There are also elements of irony in the adoption of Deliveroo’s jackets as a minor fashion item: “Obviously people see the brand and they’d be confused as to why you’d wear it to the rave,” Ashley said.
But 3M Scotchlite — reflective material more commonly found in hi-viz jackets, like the Deliveroo jacket upper — has crept into streetwear, and has been used by everyone from cult mega-brand Supreme in partnership with North Face to Air Jordan. Combined with its relatively slim profile, and high-necked gully jacket design, the Deliveroo jacket doesn’t look all that bad — especially compared to some of its competitors’ uniforms.
Even high-fashion is waking up to the possibilities of contemporary uniforms. In 2015, Vetements unveiled a yellow T-shirt at a Paris catwalk show featuring international delivery firm DHL’s logo. Basically a DHL uniform, in other words. The price? £185.
It was fiercely divisive: Some thought it was an absurd scam — but other aficionados couldn’t get enough, and it quickly sold out.
More recently, an episode of PAQ, an online show about streetwear, had its stars try and get their hands on uniforms to create workwear-inspired looks. One managed to get their hands on a Royal Mail reflective coat, while another styled DHL. A third went for a Deliveroo jacket — paying a courier £60 on the street to hand it over.
‘Looks hard, and the colours are lit.’
James, a 17-year-old student who previously rode for Deliveroo, cited PAQ’s video as part of the reason for the interest.
“I think it was kind of a thing before vetements and offwhite jumped on it but im sure that has helped it become more popular, along with PAQ more recently,” he said.
The purchaser of James’ jacket was Raman. When we spoke he was in Miami for a music festival, and hadn’t worn the jacket yet. Why did he buy it?
“Wavey,” he said simply. “Looks hard, and the colours are lit.”
What does he think is behind the rise in workwear as a fashion item? “Everyone got their own opinion but imo they look fly, the colours are appealing and 3m looks sick, can match with lots of other items like them diamond supply nike sb dunks.”
The 21-year-old is also not worried about being mistaken for a Deliveroo courier when he wears it. “Maybe some people [will]. Ain’t gonna be rolling with the hench bag they got or a bike so some people won’t.”
Deliveroo says it’s ‘humbling’
Deliveroo seems bemused by the underground phenomenon. Simon Rohrbach, the head of design at the British startup, never thought this would happen when creating the new jackets.
“It’s really humbling when you design something and it takes on meaning and value beyond what was originally intended,” he said.
When designing the jacket, the company’s designers “took a fairly broad view of what was otu their in temrs of fashion, in terms of active wear” (the jacket’s utilitarian lines nod to the athletic-wear inspired “athleisure” trend), with a focus on safety — hence the reflectivity.
But unlike DHL and Vetements, Deliveroo doesn’t intend to cash in on its newfound status.
Right now, there’s no official way ordinary people can buy the jackets, and the company has no plans to change that.
Some names have been changed.