Retail is dying. In its place, “wellness” is rising like a taut phoenix who does Tracy Anderson and cleanses her crystals under the light of every full moon. In an effort to save itself from succumbing to the power of Amazon, the New York Times reports that Saks Fifth Avenue has opened The Wellery, an “experiential” wellness zone.
The Wellery, which appears to be arranged like an indoor flea market, spreads out over 16,000 square feet on the second floor of Saks and contains a cobbled-together assortment of services meant to align a weary shopper’s chakras and tone their jiggly bodies at the same time: there’s a salt room where a halogenerator pumps 99 percent sodium chloride in the air in a fine mist; a nail salon that features non-toxic nail polish and meditation; group fitness classes offered by the ConBody, which specializes in “prison-style boot camp” workouts; something resembling CoolSculpting; and avocado juice for sale, which sounds gross. It’s “wellness” viewed through a strangely luxurious lens, but according to Marc Metrick, the president of Saks, it’s the fucking future—or at least the now-ish.
“The wellness thing is big,” he told the Times. “We’re calling it ‘the new luxury.’ It used to be about fur and leather. But people just want to feel better.” What Metick was less forthcoming about is the fact that Saks, which is under new ownership, is possibly at the risk of being forced to convert its upper floors to luxury condos. The Wellery was seemingly conceived at Metrick’s behest; according to the Times, the original renovation plans had the second floor sitting empty. Metick asked his staff to come up with some ideas and that is how The Wellery was born. It opened in May and according to Metick, it’s been a success.
Wellness as a lifestyle is increasingly becoming defined as a luxury; juice fasts and cleanses and GOOP-endorsed jade eggs that one shoves inside their vagina are expensive necessities for the modern woman wanting to live a life free of toxins, inflammation and free radicals. It would make sense to place a “wellness bazaar” in a store that also sells Lanvin and Alexander McQueen, because at least it’s being honest about its intentions as well as its audience. Never mind that “wellness” is nothing more than a marketing buzzword flung about to sell snake oil to the masses—Saks Fith Avenue is betting on its continued ascendancy to save its own ass.