September 16, 2016

It is near impossible to discuss Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s media and e-commerce lifestyle brand, without bringing up the lady herself. In fact, the name Goop — “a word that means nothing and [by that] anything”, is itself a play on Paltrow’s initials, emblematic of the inextricable association between the brand and her persona. And Paltrow has a polarising personality; you either love or hate her.

This is a celebrity who has had the controversial honour of being named both 2013’s “Most Beautiful” and “Most Hated Celebrity”, according to varying tabloid polls. GP, as her Goop staff calls her, is a woman with the power to provoke intense feelings and reactions in others, and she’s clearly taking it in hand.

Goop began as a weekly e-mail newsletter in 2008, doling out lifestyle recommendations and advice for better living based on Paltrow’s own personal favourites and interests. It featured wellness treatments like the now-infamous vaginal steam cleanses and homemade smoothies with pricey, unorthodox ingredients such as “moon dust”, meeting with howls of ridicule and outrage from the general public. Often painted as pretentious, privileged purveyors of obnoxious and blinkered advice, GP and her brand have been intensely vilified in popular media. Given this, Goop’s success and steady growth as a company is intriguing, to say the least.

The firm has seen promising growth and expansion since its inception, with a slew of successful product collaborations with renowned labels like Diane Von Furstenburg, Stella McCartney and Valentino, all of which sold out quickly, despite much ballyhoo over the site’s steep price points. Foraying into its own private label range,  the company has just raised USD 10 million in Series B funding, and released a small but well-received skincare line in March this year.

Goop Label’s “September Edition” is first in what is intended to be a monthly series of in-season, designer-quality pieces.  The line is inspired by “[irreplaceable] items in Paltrow’s closet that she’s held onto [through the years]”, and this month’s collection features a restrained palette of pale grey, blue and white.

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Image Credit : Goop Label

At a glance, the 4-piece capsule certainly seems to fulfil the label’s promising “Buy Now, Wear Now, Keep Forever” slogan. The all-seasons tweed blazer and culottes made of lightweight wool and silk, structured chambray shirt and white cotton and leather tote are all sartorially versatile basics that one can easily wear throughout the seasons, dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.

Prices for Goop Label are still steep for the average salaried-buyer (think almost $300 for a plain cotton tote), though Paltrow promises that it is still great value for money. She’s offering Italian-made quality at “a third of [its traditional retail] price”, produced in the same factories as high fashion brands like Proenza Schouler, Vetements and Dries Van Noten.

Paltrow certainly has at the very least, a small but well-heeled crowd convinced, seeing as how most of the limited stock for the 4 pieces have quickly sold out within days of going live on site. Even as some media persist in scoffing at its prices and too basic designs, Goop Label is turning out to be another successful venture for Paltrow, another quiet triumph and steady step towards growth for her and Goop, in the face of vocal naysayers and derisive contempt.

Paltrow might not present the most universal or likeable figure with her frequently quirky, highly subjective pronouncements (“I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.”) that can summarily dismiss what most of us love and consider a part of everyday life. Her exclusive, even seemingly elevated plane of existence and brand might not be the most accessible, both in terms of price and what is considered normal (conscious uncoupling, anybody?), but there is something to be admired about her steadfast self-assurance and her earnest belief in her brand and its virtues.

In the face of what seems like a jeering majority, Goop and its band of nearly 1 million subscribers and enthusiastic buyers represent a truly authentic spirit— a woman who is unafraid and unapologetic about who she is and/or would like to be.