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Branded t-shirts and ballcaps would have been expected by fans of A&W Restaurants, a 102-year-old fast-food chain known for its classic burgers and root beer floats. But the Lodi, California, company, which has some 625 U.S. locations nationwide—mainly concentrated in Texas, California and Michigan—instead released a high-end collection of pricey, purposely designed, fashion-forward items, and the company plans to release new items annually.

The collection was designed to highlight the brand’s cheese curds, which are made with 100-percent Wisconsin white cheddar cheese. A play on “sweater weather,” many of the Americana-esque items—which include bespoke pieces, such as a pair of size 11, Thorogood® leather work boots hand-painted by Lexington, Kentucky artist Caylie Mindlong, with the words “cheese” and “curds” painted across both steel toes and retailing for $714.99—feature cheese curds prints and/or designs, were introduced with an editorial-style photoshoot by fashion photographer Elizabeth Withers.

In addition to the work boots, the collection—which follows A&W’s color scheme of brown, orange and cream—includes a custom-made brown wool letterman-style jacket featuring hand-stitched chenille patches made by Universal Lettering Co., which retails for $500, and a handmade, insulated fanny pack designed in collaboration with Brooklyn-based SAANT STUDIOS and the HENRY brand, which retails for $350. A&W has also announced that throughout the year it plans to release more economically priced items, like branded t-shirts and ball caps.

A&W said in a news release that its plan with this collection is to build more of a buzz for the brand than a profit, which is why it includes products available in lower quantities and higher-end bespoke items. The collection is also thought to be an effort on A&W’s part to stand out amongst larger competitors, like McDonald’s and Burger King, and establish itself as a household name. The company has also taken to Twitter to remind customers that A&W is not only still around but focused on growth by updating its bio to read, “Yes, we’re still a thing.”


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.