A tin of Perelló olives in one hand, a bottle of natty wine in the other. A bag of Torres crisps shoved under an arm in the sleeve of a long Burberry mac — though not so long it hides the Birkenstocks. If Instagram’s hit accounts @socks_house_meeting (SHM) and @real_housewives_of_clapton (RHOC) are right, this is what any self-respecting east Londoner looks like in 2023. Privilege has never had so many memes.
While the accounts differ on exactly why, both agree on one thing: the relentless ubiquity of Perelló olives. If east London had a star sign, Perelló would surely be it. They are everywhere; they are, as the Standard’s Alexandra Jones wrote not long ago, one of London’s latest icks.
“2023 is the year of Salomon XT6s, weird small dogs, Perellós and Torres crisps,” SHM says over coffee at the Dusty Knuckle in Dalston (where else?). “Spending £4 on a tin of olives and literally a fiver on a bag of crisps, you’ve just spent almost a tenner on two things that are a snack — it’s nonsense.
“They probably taste better,” he adds dryly, because they’re in this fancy can that you can reuse for a potted plant.”
The price — the smallest tins are typically more than £4 — might be famously high (at a pub in Broadway Market, one punter says: “I’m a fan, even if I can’t buy them because I’m poor”) but it hasn’t slowed sales. “They now seem to have reached the height of cult status,” says Harriet Stanford, marketing manager at Brindisa. “We’ve seen sales of the 150g tins to UK delis increase 39 per cent in value from January to July this year compared to 2022.”
It’s true elsewhere. For Figs & Grain in Broadway Market, the olives are a must-have in the stockroom. “We have plenty, but we keep ordering more. We have over 60 boxes downstairs,” says the store manager. A few doors down, L’eau à La Bouche say they get through 50 tins a week; at Stokey’s Deli, it’s almost twice that. So where did Perelló-mania come from? Is it correlation or coincidence that the meme accounts and olive sales have experienced exponential growth since the start of the year? Sure, the olives taste good, but there must be more to it than that.
Theory one? That a certain crowd often place more value on their image than saving money. “People who work in the creative industry — and have the money to — buy these things. Or even if they don’t, they still spend the money. Everyone wants to be ‘in’,” SHM says.
RHOC supports theory number two — that actually, it’s gone beyond that, and people just want to be a part of the online joke, IRL. “It’s more of a conversation starter than ‘look how cool I am,’” he argues. “It’s like: look at this thing we can have a joke about. It’s become a bit of a cliché.”
“People get them as a joke now. It’s like ‘yeah I live in Clapton’ more than ‘yeah I’m rich.’ It’s just a bit iconic,” agrees a Clapton local.
Theory number three might trump them both: the Perelló olive tin has become the perfect vehicle for the paradox of life in 2023 London. “There is an irony in existing in London at this time if you’re a 30 to 40-year-old,” says RHOC. “Because it’s very difficult to buy a house, but we spend our money on lots of other expensive things. It’s about spending slightly excessive amounts of money in a controlled way.”
Perellós can, then, represent both feeling flush and broke; they are a superficial trend but also a legacy product; and a way to be part of the in-crowd — while also mocking that same crowd. The Perelló trend is a lot, in other words. And if 2023 is anything, it’s a lot. Here’s to (o)living your best life.