"Gluten-free” is a magic word among the West Hollywood set of Los Angeles. Visit a random see-and-be-seen type of place in urban California and the menu cards will specify which dishes contain the pesky proteins and which don’t. While those who suffer from gluten intolerance may interpret the provision of such information as an expression of empathy, the reason for restaurants doing so is largely a result of the gluten-free movement. The latter is the latest in a long list of (California-based) food trends focused on the 21st-century obsession with healthy living – in a 360-degree sense.
Celebrities are falling over themselves to jump on the bandwagon. Case in point, Clueless star Alicia Silverstone, who became the unofficial ambassador for veganism in the early 2000s. Around the same time actress Demi Moore credited her “raw food” regime (a mostly-raw vegan diet full of organic vegetables, fruit, green juices, smoothies and soups) as the secret behind her impeccable physique and ageless appearance.
Beyond the realm of food, Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow has managed to monetise on the wellness trend by means of a digital platform called Goop, launched in 2008. What started as a blog allowing the actress to publish posts regarding fitness, sexual health and recipes has grown into a fully-fledged media entity and e-commerce business selling organic cosmetics, clothing, accessories and supplements. Add to this the solid presence of 1 million subscribers to the Goop newsletter, plus high-profile co-branding projects with the likes of Valentino and Net-A-Porter, and you’ve got yourself a winning formula.
Over the course of almost a decade, Paltrow and her Goop blog posts have been mocked by mass media outlets left and right. The 2014 post in which she referred to her split from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin as “consciously uncoupling” is likely one of the most notorious examples. In the end, however, it is the actress who is laughing all the way to the bank. In 2016, Goop raised $15-20 million in venture capital, which was followed by the announcement that the company would become an online business supplying vitamins. At present, the dietary supplements market Stateside is valued at $36.7 billion.
Paltrow isn’t the only actress to take the concept of wellness and organic products and turn it into a lucrative business venture. Actress Jessica Alba founded The Honest Company in 2011, alongside business partners Sean Kane, Christopher Gavigan and Maria Ivette P. The company – valued at $1.7 billion – sells non-toxic household products for babies, personal care and cleaning, in addition to vitamins. The healthy lifestyle business centred around a guru-like ambassador sharing personal tips and tricks has proven to be a branch of business so legitimate that both Paltrow and Alba are rarely spotted doing their acting day jobs these days.
In April this year, Goop’s founder and CEO announced that, following a meeting with American Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast artistic director Anna Wintour, she’d be bringing Goop to her online audience of 1 million unique monthly visitors in the form of a quarterly print magazine. It will be published in partnership with Condé Nast and its debut issue is scheduled for September.
But Paltrow’s latest power moves in business aren’t exactly surprising. The multi-channel business approach is the defining model for the 2010s; optimal presence across various platforms enabling a company to cater to its audience whenever, wherever, however. The more income streams, the higher the potential return on investment. The same approach was taken by Condé Nast when it relaunched its Style.com editorial platform as a destination for e-commerce. The publishing house’s annual Condé Nast International Luxury Conference further capitalises on the brand’s reach and prestige, offering the real-life experience by featuring talks by renowned fashion-industry figures.
In keeping with the multi-channel trend of organising conferences, a slew of companies whose core business is media have jumped on the trend. Namely, the Business of Fashion’s VOICES, Bloomberg’s Future of Energy and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 summits. Paltrow followed suit in June by organising the first edition of In Goop Health, a three-hour wellness symposium for which tickets were sold at prices ranging from $500 upwards to $1,500. Key speakers included celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, chef Seamus Mullen, psychotherapist Dr Phil and Paltrow herself.
While Paltrow’s wellness brand is thriving and Goop’s next chapter in print arguably ranks among the year’s most anticipated magazine launches, the actress still has some wishes left to cross off her list. Following multiple pop-up appearances across the States – most recently in partnership with luxury department store Nordstrom – the opening of a bricks-and-mortar shop seems inevitable. In the end, it seems, it’s a Goop world. We’re just living in it.