The ‘It’ Coat This Winter Is Rachel Antonoff’s Pasta Puffer

“I feel like a winter coat with pasta all over it is a little bit of joy,” she said.

This winter, the pasta puffer has been especially conspicuous. Lauren Goldstein, 26, who works in social media and marketing in Manhattan and owns the coat, said this could be a result of the unseasonably warm weather in many parts of the country, which allows for outerwear that prioritizes fashion over function.

The pasta coat is “my entire personality this winter,” she said.

It’s not unheard-of for outerwear to develop a cult following (see: the $100-ish Amazon Coat that took New York by storm in 2018). But the pasta puffer seems more niche.

“Before the pandemic, we were very often told, ‘This is way too loud, too much, this doesn’t merchandise,’ ” said Ms. Antonoff, who has been making food-themed garments like babka sweaters and dresses decorated with seafood towers since 2015. Then the lockdowns happened, and many people spending their workdays on Zoom calls were looking for a way to provoke conversation. “We noticed that people are being seen from waist up, and they wanted to have a big bagel on their sweater.”

The excitement for those styles has remained, she said.

Laura Nguyen, an account executive in Brooklyn Heights, said that during the pandemic she grew tired of her “bluish-gray professional clothes” from Ann Taylor. She decided to refresh her wardrobe, and at the end of 2021 rented the pasta puffer from the website Rent the Runway.

“Adding food into patterns and fashion is like the new florals,” said Ms. Nguyen, 25.

Sam Hwang, 25, who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., and also owns the coat, said its popularity speaks to the way many people are more body-positive, and make their favorite dishes part of their identity. Other designers, like Lisa Says Gah and Susan Alexandra, have drawn attention for their food-themed fashion.