butter yellow's quiet rebrand
meet banana milk
🕊️ Ceasefire Now in Gaza 🕊️
But I noticed another color quietly ascend in cultural relevance: pale yellow. Instinctively, I wanted to call it “butter yellow” because that’s how the color has been branded since 2020ish. Google search results for “butter yellow fashion” demonstrate how much the term stuck: you have publications like Vogue, ELLE and Cosmo declaring butter yellow as the new neutral, and fashion girls captioning their outfits on Instagram with butter emoji 🧈. Butter is the most stylish and “sophisticated” dairy product, the most transferrable to fashion aesthetics. And you can’t talk about butter yellow lore without mentioning’s “stick of butter” winter dressing method from 2018. In sum: I think of pale yellow as butter yellow because it’s been branded that way.
But when I read’s brilliant piece this week on the banana fruit trend, something clicked for me. Avery is onto something with the rise of the banana as the fruit mascot of our times. It triggered a latent montage of banana-related words and images in fashion:
“banana” is the perpetually sold-out colorway of the Frye 14L Campus Boots
Gil Rodriguez’s summer collection featured a “banana cream” colorway
the ongoing Banana Republic renaissance
Brazilian tropicana brand Farm Rio’s signature banana print
Just like the tension between cherries and tomatoes to be Food Ambassador of Red, butter and banana are pitted in an analogous position. I think banana may eclipse butter in 2024. Pale yellow will undergo a cultural rebranding through the banana. Imagine a lo-fi yellow, a creamy yellow, the yellow of the banana’s inside—not the bright pop-art yellow of its peel.
I can’t stop thinking about the term “banana milk”, which Who What Wear and COS have recently used to expand our pale-yellow vocabulary. The butter yellow vs. banana milk yellow branding is so interesting to me. When I hear butter I think of croissants, galettes, pies, shortbread. French and European things. When I hear banana milk I think of HMart, Ranch99, steamed egg, spongey cakes and custard buns at Paris Baguette. Whereas “butter yellow” situates the color trend within a European/Western cultural context, “banana milk yellow” conjures an association with Asia. Here’s a brief history of banana milk:
In the 70s, the South Korean government encouraged higher milk consumption, but people weren’t into the flavor of natural milk. So Binggrae, a dairy company, invented its signature Banana Flavored Milk product by added banana flavoring to milk at a time when fresh bananas were difficult to import. The drink has become popular in China, and is now exported to a bunch of different countries.
Interestingly, fashion publications and brands writing about “banana milk yellow” don’t make any reference to its history or cultural context. It makes me wonder how and why they decided to use “banana milk” as a color branding phrase. Is it a strategic vocabulary shift by the fashion industry to align with the broader Korean cultural wave? Catering to the fast-growing market for luxury fashion in China? What do you think?