The Top 5 Lifestyle Brands of 2018
Being a lifestyle brand means bringing the most unique and distinct products and services to your customers. These brands are an experience—an aspiration. Lifestyle brands are about a singular image, with a strong philosophy and unique style. Thanks to social media, consumers idealize these brands and the individuals associated with them as lifestyle “goals.” The brands’ job is to give them a way to buy a slice.
The five brands on this list are not all industry leaders but are swiftly changing the way we consume. They all aim to perfect the way their customers live their lives, and they’re doing a pretty good job at it.
Chillhouse is a cafe and spa in the Lower East Side. The space is the only one of its kind in New York, offering a range of services from manicures to massages in an aesthetically pleasing cafe environment. Cyndi Ramirez, the founder of now-defunct food blog Taste the Style, opened the unique space after she realized something was missing on her spa days.
In an interview with Forbes, Ramirez said, “Something clicked to me one day when I was with my husband and we were trying to get massages. There was nothing that called to us—something affordable that wasn't $150 or a casual Chinatown establishment. It all tied together when we started thinking of other things that were missing in the space.”
Chillhouse is special not only because it offers the unique experience of a cafe-spa combination, but because Ramirez combined her lifestyle website with her brick-and-mortar space to create a perfect marriage between a good ol’ fancy time at the spa and a digital publication. They post health and beauty content on their website and host different events at the cafe.
Ramirez is changing the way that retail spaces operate. Gone are the days of having to go to multiple stores to get the things you want; you go to one place to get your nails done, enjoy a massage, and grab your cup of coffee.
Away is a travel and lifestyle brand based out of New York City. The brand was founded by Stephanie Korey and Jen Rubio in 2015 after Rubio’s suitcase broke in the airport.
In an interview with the New York Times, Rubio said, “I went to look for a replacement, but there honestly wasn’t anything out there that thought about travel the way modern travelers do today.”
So, what was the next move? According to Korey, they surveyed hundreds of people over the course of two months and immediately started building their first prototype. “We just wanted to solve a problem we were seeing and ended up starting a company,” she said.
Away is a great lifestyle brand because of the simple fact they took an item that almost everyone has but no one puts thought into: a cool, sleek hard-shell suitcase in any color with a built-in charger and straps to fasten your carry-on to the top. No, these $300 cases are certainly not a necessity, but they do something that every good lifestyle brand should: add perfection to your everyday life.
Equinox Fitness is a luxury fitness company which owns and operates quite a large portfolio of different fitness brands including Equinox gyms, SoulCycle, Blink Fitness, and PURE Yoga. The entire brand boasts more than 135 locations across the US, Canada, and Europe.
The $300 per month membership includes standard gym admittance, about 50 different workout classes, facilities in just about every neighborhood in New York, and personal training—and that’s just the gym part. They also have a Juice Press, spa, and lounge space at every location, a monthly magazine, a growing merchandise business, and in 2019, a hotel on the west side of Manhattan. Entry level memberships run about $200 per month.
What makes Equinox different is the fact that each one of their locations is designed to fit the lifestyle and aesthetics of whatever neighborhood or city it’s in. Their customer is well off, likes to stay fit, and travels constantly, so for a gym to take that knowledge and open a luxury hotel to accommodate them even further is a completely new level of the “lifestyle brand.”
Goop, which started as a health and wellness newsletter, has grown into an omnichannel media and e-commerce giant. The company was founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2008 and has since become a leader in the health and wellness industry.
According to its website, “We are a lifestyle brand with its roots in content across six key pillars: Wellness, Travel, Food, Beauty, Style, and Work; within those pillars, we curate and sell a tightly-edited array of products that adhere to our brands’ values, and we also make our own goods.”
What makes this lifestyle brand-led-by-a-celebrity separate from, say, Martha Stewart, is the fact that it isn’t so easily attainable. Paltrow has always been unrelatable to most women, yet she has remained an “it girl.” Her goal with Goop was not to appeal to the mass market in Macy’s or Target, but to act as the middle man for those women in fashion and art who aspire to be like her and who share her ideology. They want luxury skin care and wellness but don’t have the time or money to actually get it. Goop serves it to them on a silver platter.
If you didn’t already know, Ikea is a Swedish company that designs and sells “ready-to-assemble” furniture at affordable prices, worldwide. They have been setting the bar for design via mass production since the 1970s and have been the world's largest retailer for furniture since 2008.
Ikea has never been a regular furniture company; it changed the way that we consume and shop for goods. The store includes a warehouse with a perfectly furnished showroom, a full cafeteria, and a full assembly team. You can walk into one of those massive blue buildings and walk out with a completely furnished apartment and a belly full of Swedish meatballs. Though it is true, the company has contributed to the “throw away culture” of the 20th century with their inexpensive products, the company has also made design and art accessible to the mass market.
Like each one of the companies on my list, it has made an aesthetically pleasing lifestyle normally, reserved for the rich, available to everyone. It’s number one on this list because no one has been able to do it on the same scale as Ikea and certainly not for this long.