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Gwyneth Paltrow goop store
Gwyneth Paltrow via Instagram

The Goop store in London is closing – is this the end of wellness?

It could mean nothing, or it could mean everything

The roots of modern day Wellness Culture can, undoubtedly, be traced back to Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop. So what does it mean that the company is permanently closing down its West London Gooptique – it’s first and only store outside of North America? This week, the news broke that Paltrow had signed the forms to shut down the UK branch of her business, which never reopened after its pandemic closure and had reportedly lost £1.4 million since 2020. 

Considering the boom that the wellness industry has seen in the last five years, this closure comes as somewhat of a surprise. The Global Wellness Institute valued the global wellness industry at $4.4 trillion in 2020 and predicts this will grow to $7 trillion by 2025. Goop itself seems to have gone from strength to strength (several lawsuits aside) since launching in 2008, expanding from a newsletter written in Paltrow’s kitchen to a business which boasts a sex toy, cruises, wellness summits, a Netflix documentary series, exploding vagina candles, skincare products, and a clothing label. In December, Goop was awarded the title of Brand of the Year by WWD, which described the company as a “bona fide beauty sensation”. 

So what is behind the seeming failure of the Westbourne Grove Gooptique? Is it just the pandemic? A lot of businesses struggled with the forced closures during lockdown, and the Goop store never got its momentum back when the high street started opening up again. Could it be that in a cost of living crisis people aren’t shelling out for £120 wooden spoons like they used to? And maybe that rent in W11 is extortionate? Is it that Goop is experiencing the same difficulties as Glossier, both brands that pioneered a new market and then struggled when it got flooded with similar brands copying the model? Wellness is much more ubiquitous now, and if you can get your mushroom teas and libido gummies at every cafe and Urban Outfitters, why go to Goop?

This news could have a larger significance for the wellness industry, or even be a sign of growing disillusionment. People may no longer want their wellness served in the rich, white lady variety. With the rise of luxury self-care and the commodification of the idea of wellness, growing prices have increasingly made the industry inaccessible to all but the very rich. Meanwhile, the whitewashing of practices like yoga, meditation and breathwork has shut out and alienated the cultures from which they originated and created hostile environments for people of colour. All of this has given wellness a reputation for being exclusive, outdated and inaccessible to those who arguably need it most. Paltrow, and her $8,100 infrared sauna, is undoubtedly a figurehead of rich, white woman wellness.

This news also marks the move away from moderate wellness, and the growing schism within the category which has seen people and trends move in one of two ways. In a reaction against wellness culture, we’ve witnessed the return of messy, sexy make-up trends like indie sleaze, anti-perfectionist, bad beauty and post-shag. Brands like 4.a.m and Akro are embracing vices and staying out all night, while the heralding of the return of “heroin chic”, although much criticised, suggests looking healthy and well is not as prized as it once was.

On the other hand, for those who have stayed committed to wellness, the boundaries are being pushed further and further to the extreme. While “self-care” (as defined by brands) used to encompass bath salts and a deep conditioning hair mask, we’re now swapping scented candles for cryo chambers and IV drips. Supplements and ear seeds suddenly seem less whacky when you are regularly submerging yourself in temperatures of -100 degrees celsius and getting vitamin injections every time you have a hangover. 

So is the closing of the Goop store a harbinger of the end of wellness? Is it just a forgettable blip in the rise and rise of Goop? Is it an indicator that wellness is undergoing an extreme transformation that will leave those brands and treatments in the middle scrambling for relevance? Time will tell – but in the meantime, you’ll have to start buying your vagina candles online.