NEW YORK — Ten years ago, wellness was about the hippy and the dippy.
My, how times have changed.
Today, according to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness takes in $4.2 trillion in annual global spending.
No wonder Philadelphia is right on the wave. We may be cheesesteak central, but most of our new businesses are promoting a wellness lifestyle: Both suburban towns and Center City continue to welcome boutique fitness outfits, such as Walnut Street’s Rumble and Cyclebar in Plymouth Meeting. Spiritual haunts like Syreeta Scott’s Sable — a downtown location will open later this month — and Angela Monaco’s Ritual Shoppe sell sage, candles, and essential oils so one can have a wellness experience in the comfort of her own home. And every upstart fashion label is more concerned with slow fashion than with producing the next must-see runway show.
Recently, I spent two days in New York City chasing wellness trends at the Active Collective, where boutique owners go to find the latest in athleisure trends, and at the Global Wellness Institute, where experts study the economic impact of wellness. This is what I learned about 2019 wellness trends.
• Athleisure isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The good old days when getting dressed up at Le Bec-Fin have been replaced with yoga pants for Sunday brunch at Parc. Avocado toast included. I spent a recent Friday afternoon with Ashley Anapolsky, buyer for Philly online athleisure site Addison Bay at Active Collective, where I saw the latest trends in active wear, from Athletist to Spiritual Gangster. Top trends include: reversible leggings and jackets, multicolor camo, from hot pink to banana yellow to cobalt blue to — aack! — biker shorts. “I don’t know how this is going to go over,” said Anapolsky, who admittedly picked up a few. I don’t either.
• How our clothing is made will matter more and more.
Phrases like zero waste, sustainability, and slow fashion will continue to dominate our fashion lexicon. Luckily, Philadelphia is on point in following these important movements. And We Evolve continues to make resale desirable with subscription boxes. Betsy Cook of Haddonfield’s National Picnic makes her pieces on the sales floor. And in coming weeks, United By Blue will launch a shoe collaboration with fellow environmentally conscious company SOLE that they say is the world’s most eco-friendly — it features recycled cork midsole fashioned from algea, foam, and rice rubber. “We’ll see radical innovation in sustainable textiles,” said Beth McGroarty, vice president of research and forecasting at the Global Wellness Summit. “If manufacturing is a mean, faceless business, more ethical fashion brands will provide transparency into how they treat — and even celebrate by name — the artisans that created your wardrobe.”
• Wellness is driving real estate, too. But it’s not cheap.
Fitler Club, the high-end social club near 30th Street Station, is opening piecemeal throughout the year with a theme of cultivating a holistic approach to health and wellness issues. The club will feature a gym with an indoor pool and restaurants that specialize in healthy fare, from juice bars to super-food cuisine — think lots of kale and cauliflower — courtesy of chef Kevin Sbraga. Wellness real estate, according to the Global Wellness Institute, accounts for $13.4 billion in worldwide sales.
• Wellness is not a luxury of the uber-white and uber-rich.
Modern-day wellness habits have the tough reputation of being a luxury for the rich. People of color and poorer people don’t see it as something they have time for or can actually afford, said Ophelia Yeung of the Global Wellness Institute. It’s hard to forget that wellness experiences can be done at home, too. Apps like Calm help us meditate, and email blasts from Black Zen help women of color (but really, any woman) attack everyday problems from a holistic point of view. “Coming home to a tidy space, lighting a candle, and playing your favorite relaxing music can really set the tone to unwind,” Monaco said. “Burning some Palo Santo or spraying my favorite intentional spray can change the energy.” And most people, especially Oprah, will tell you good energy unlocks our wellness.
• Get your meditation on. Anywhere will do.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, meditation is evolving from a singular to a plural practice, meaning today you might try transcendental meditation, tomorrow you might just stare at a wall and try to rid yourself of monkey mind. “It seems like we’ve reached peak mindfulness and meditation, but we really haven’t,” McGroarty said. “After years of talk, people are actually doing it.” On the horizon are yoga trucks where people can meet for yoga — not order tacos. Locally, yoga studios like Yoga on Main in Manayunk, Pa., have instituted weekly meditation practices. For example, every other Monday it features chakra meditation and oneness blessing. That is definitely on my bucket list.
• The science of smell is the next wellness frontier.
The sense of smell is on the cusp of a wellness moment as scientists study the impact of scent on our physical and emotional well-being. Under the umbrella of aromatherapy, it’s long been known that candles and oils can help us feel better. But, according to McGroarty, companies like Nue Co. are marketing anti-stress supplement as fragrances, and restaurants — think Autograph Brasserie in Wayne, Pa., — are offering scent-based menus that pair wine and foods with Diptyque candles. “It seems that a lot of my brands, like Ferragamo, Hugo Boss, even Armani are using real essential oils in their fragrances,” said Nir Guy, owner of King of Prussia specialty store Perfumology. “The more natural things they are putting in are making our brains happier. People are less allergic to it, and they don’t sneeze as much when they come into my store.”
• Dying well is just as important as living well.
We are so afraid of death — I know I am — that we don’t give it much thought in life. As a result, we watch our friends and loved ones rush through the process eager to get the death and burials over with. Ironically, the wellness market, which has extending life at its center, is part of the problem. Suddenly, MGroarty said, it seems a “death positive” movement is here, bringing with it talk of making the dying process more humane. And just like birthing doulas who help women give birth in a loving surrounding, there are death doulas who help us die with dignity. But at the heart of our relationship with death is coming to terms with how we are living, said Henry Fersko-Weiss, president of the International End-of-Life Doula Association. “If you don’t think you’ve had a life worth living, the dying process becomes even more unbearable,” Fersko-Weiss said.