Department Stores: Wellness Drives

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - The School of Life
Image source: The School of Life, Harrods

Post-Christmas, a plethora of department stores have homed in not only on the annual panic to get fitter, but also a wider, and likely more enduring appetite for wellness – a booming sector. The wellness industry is set to generate global sales of $1trn by 2017, surging 36% from $735.5bn in 2013 (Euromonitor) – a finding reflected in Twitter’s top three New Year’s resolutions for 2016: fitness, healthy eating and “being a better person”.

Straddling wellness festivals, talks, product demos, food-hall takeovers and limited edition products, we review the best initiatives.

  • Try Something New – Food, Fitness & Mindfulness: British store Harrods’ storewide Happy New You festival is celebrating health, happiness and holistic wellbeing. The series of in-store activities are being hosted in collaboration with three wellness-focused businesses under the hashtag #TryJanuary.

British health coach and cookbook author Madeleine Shaw has assumed the temporary role of ‘Chef of the Season’, creating “healthy gourmet treats” exclusively available in the store’s food hall until the end of February. She’ll also be demonstrating her “clean eating cooking skills” in the store’s cookshop space on Sunday February 7, closing the event.

London-based “better living consultancy” The School of Life offered four free mindfulness classes covering career, priorities, creativity and lifestyle. An adjacent bookshop sold a range of stationery and books related to the same topics.

Meanwhile, for fitness-focused consumers, US gym chain Equinox hosted demonstrations of yoga, boxing and barre classes in a sportswear fashion space.


  • Insider Acumen: Heritage British store Liberty targeted the topic via a month of ‘Be Well’ beauty, fitness, nutrition and fashion events – most of which were echoed on its e-commerce site.

Key initiatives included a fitness training event dubbed #TrainTuesday with Nike. Consumers who bought Nike garments at Liberty could sign up for a free, high-intensity cycling workout at Psycle, Canary Wharf – an official Liberty x Nike+ Training Club takeover.

The brand also ran beauty classes with experts Kate Shapland, founder of cellulite cream brand Legology, and Arabella Preston, founder of natural face-oil company Votary. In addition, it also hosted panel discussions with industry insiders such as Lily Simpson, founder of food-box subscription service The Detox Kitchen, and wellness magazine Hip&Healthy.

Trading on the latter, Liberty collaborated with Hip&Healthy on a bespoke ‘Be Well’ box featuring nine wellbeing products, handpicked by British beauty editors. The campaign runs until February 13.


  • Editorial Focus – Tips and Tricks for Athleisure: UK brand John Lewis has launched Re:New_All. The wellness initiative revolves around a dedicated section on its e-commerce site featuring athleisure clothing and wellness product editorials, fitness plans, healthy recipes and sleeping tips. The online overview was complemented by a wellbeing-attuned product edit in its main windows.


  • Longer-Term Plans – The Body Studio: British brand Selfridges is wholeheartedly jumping onto the wellness bandwagon with plans to open an entirely new floor called The Body Studio in its London destination in April 2016. Located on the top floor in former office space, it will stock more than 100 brands, as well as a wellness café. The new development will debut with the theme ‘Everybody’, celebrating the body and inner beauty. The theme is similar to its 2014 campaign The Beauty Project, which championed diversity in the beauty sector.
  • Retail Introductions: American brand Saks Fifth Avenue has introduced Beautiful Discoveries for spring – a multi-store beauty/fitness drive. In-store, beauty consumers are being invited to test free services including facials, manicures, massages and skin analysis at selected beauty counters. Further afield, the brand hosted pop-up shops at popular upscale fitness centres including AKT, Pure Yoga and Physique 57 in New York and Beverly Hills. There, beauty experts demonstrated quick-application, post-gym make-up tips, and distributed vouchers for in-store pick-up gifts.


Guest post by Katie Baron & Stefanie Dorfer