Where there’s a flock of young women decked out in baggy pants and baggier jackets and little sunglasses, there’s a good chance Emma Chamberlain has something to do with it. Over three days this past September, a fair share of them made a pilgrimage to a rare in-person event anointed with the creative touch of their Gen Z matriarch. Their TikTok chronicles followed a common formula: a fit check, a pan down to their shoes (leather loafers, worn-in cowboy boots), and a final shot populated by other eager attendees with aligned aesthetic sensibilities.
The destination in question? Blank Street Coffee, which was housing a pop-up collaboration with Chamberlain’s eponymous coffee.
Blank Street, which has lodged itself with brute force into the urban zeitgeist by opening over 40 locations in New York City seemingly overnight (13 more in London and 2 in both Washington, DC and Boston) has drawn criticism for its venture-capital-backed proliferation-first business model. To the cynics, the chain represents a grab bag of late-stage capitalism issues: Silicon Valley taking over the world, the flattening of human taste, and the continued corporatization of neighborhoods like Williamsburg, where the shop got its start.
But these skeptics fall outside of one of Blank Street’s more popular customer profiles: an influencer-obsessed audience that’s younger, hipper, and chicer than their Starbucks-toting counterparts.
The proof is in the pop-ups. This year Blank Street has partnered with a number of brands helmed by—or otherwise approved of by—influencers, such as Chamberlain Coffee, Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila, and sunscreen brand Supergoop. In each instance, the partnering brand transposed its trademark patterns and color schemes directly onto Blank Street’s storefronts. Think: stores dressed head to toe in bright yellow for Supergoop; a massive 818 logo emblazoned on a hanging sign (with “by Blank Street” in smaller letters below), with totes and hats for grabs inside; Chamberlain Coffee’s cutesy and colorful animal mascots plastered across a window display.
Because the chain’s baseline aesthetic is remarkably, well, blank, the storefronts act as ideal neutral backdrops for buzzy partnerships with It-girl influencers. Its storefronts are outfitted with pale wood, white tiling, and a logo styled in an oppressively inoffensive Helvetica-esque sans serif font. So Blank Street has outsourced a big chunk of its identity to its partners; like a chameleon, it seamlessly assumes the vibe of the influencer of the day and gets points for having partnered with them.