One of this year’s inescapable lifestyle trends has been for stressed out, cash-poor millennials to stay home rather than go out. Which means the money they do have gets spent on small pleasures like scented candles, cute lighting, superior bedding and sheet masks aplenty. Vox unpacks the story in detail here. The TLDR is that – as with any emerging grassroots movement – commercial brands have been quick to hop on this gravy train, with the so-called ‘homebody economy’ spawning all manner of businesses catering to the #Namastayinbed brigade.
Beauty-wise, it’s a huge cash cow. Thanks in no small part to Instagram, it’s now perfectly reasonable for people to spend £50+ on spa-scented wax in photogenic containers. Overose is the current cliché du jour, although I prefer the hand-blown, refillable glass of Perfumer H (I’m a Marmalade girl). Or another option for the sustainably minded, Kobo Candles’ hand poured soy candles (coming to The Conran Shop in the new year) come in seed-embedded packaging that you can plant to grown sunflower and lavender!
To accompany the create-your-own-spa-vibe candles, there are luxury sheet masks, face masks (aka intensive moisturisers), oils, and serums. Cynics may question the efficacy of these spendy potions beyond hydration, but the fact remains, consumers are metaphorically drinking them up.
My personal weakness is aromatherapy facial oils. My long term favourites are Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, (from £38) Chanel Huile de Jasmin Revitalising Oil (£97) and Sanoflore organic Essence Marveilleuse Anti-ageing Regenerating Night Oil (£39.40).
Unscented facial oils seem weird to me, like a huge sensorial pleasure is missing. But if you have sensitive skin, unscented products are advisable, in which case, I really rate Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil (from £34). It’s made from cold pressed marula oil, which is high in vitamin E, flavinoids and omega 6 and 9 oils. I use it as my last skincare step but it’s also good for soothing irritation and redness and – they say – reversing signs of ageing, should you want to.
Another recent discovery is the Odacité line. I discovered this via Caroline Hirons’ Clean Decoded beauty box for Space NK. It’s based around the founder’s quest for post breast cancer organic skincare products, so these plant-based ‘serum concentrates’ each target a different skincare concern.
I like the Odacité Po+R Hydration Serum containing pomegranate and rose geranium oils for dry, lacklustre winter skin. You can apply it directly to skin or if it’s too thick/oily, add it to a moisturiser. It’s very strongly scented of rose geranium, which I love, but if you’re not a fan of deep aromatherapy smells then avoid or go for the dilution option.
I haven’t tried Summer Fridays’ Jet Lag Mask (£42) but I’m tempted. The packaging and holiday vibe are just so damn seductive! The interesting thing about this DNVB (digital native vertical brand in start-up speak – or Instagram brand by another name) is it only has two products – the Jet Lag Mask and the Overtime Mask. It has managed to create desire around two ostensibly opposing pillars – wanderlust travel and the homebody trend. In essence, it’s for the girl who dreams of having that Instagram globetrotter lifestyle, yet in reality is more than happy having a night in with her girlfriends, jade rollering her face while surfing Netflix.
But according to Vox, better than a leave-on-and-forget-it cream mask for the diehard homebody is a sheet mask. It takes longer to apply, is usually part of a multi-step routine and thus represents the mindful component of self-care. As Korean beauty brand Peach and Lily co-founder Alicia Yoon puts it, “You’re empowered to focus on yourself and connect with yourself.”
But perhaps the biggest business opportunity here is around the growth of the sleep-care economy. Estimated to be worth $30-40 billion, that’s a lot of pyjamas, eye masks and pillow sprays. The parallel influences of digital info overload, start-up culture (who doesn’t have an online side hustle alongside their day job?) and political and economical uncertainty add up to an anxiety and sleep deprivation epidemic. Enter a tsunami of apps, books and products designed to improve the quality of the time we spend in bed.
I’m not gonna lie (pardon the pun), I love my bed! And I definitely subscribe to the notion that good sleep hygiene improves the quality of your zzzzs. I prefer plain white cotton bedding, a pile of blankets on top of the duvet and I try to have the skylight open for a few minutes a day to let the air circulate.
I’m also partial to a lavender sleep spray if I know I’m only getting a few hours kip. A spritz of This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray on the pillow or in the air helps induce instant relaxation. (Founder Kathy Phillips once told me she also sprays it around the cabin on
smelly busy flights to make her journey more restful.) Banning tech devices from the bedroom? I’m still working on that one but I find having a book or two on the go helps.
Bedding-wide, barely a week goes by without Lean Luxe alerting me to a new DTC (direct to consumer) mattress or sheet start-up. Where did they all spring from? And why mattresses? The thinking is that the mattress-in-a-box businesses (think Simba, Casper et al) emerged from the needs of post-recession first-time home owners. Swerving traditional, shop-bought mattresses, aspirational millennials prefer the cooler, Instagram-marketed versions, along with the savings that the online model passes on to the customer. It also ties in with the overarching trend for sexing up any and every utilitarian category. Hey, it works for toothpaste and razors, why not mattresses and sheets?
I’m a recent convert to Rise & Fall, a new bedding brand (from the founder of Caravan restaurants) that displays all the hallmarks of a modern, ethically minded brand. It eschews plastic packaging, its factory runs on 100% green energy, and it donates £3 from every sheet set sold to homeless charity Centrepoint. But those elements aside, the product itself is very impressive.
To ease the customer journey, Rise & Fall offers just three types of bedding – classic, organic or super luxe in plain white cotton. But the key for me is the design that solves all the usual bedding pain points. Such as the fitted sheets having extra deep sides and are elasticated all round so they properly hug the mattress. Yes, the struggle of ill-fitting sheets is real!
I have the Rise & Fall super king luxe 600 set (£175 for 600 thread count Egyptian cotton duvet cover, fitted sheet and two housewife pillowcases) and it’s far better quality than high street equivalents. You’re in bed for a third of your life, I think it makes sense to have good quality bedding that’s a pleasure to sleep in and that lasts a long time. (Tempted? Keep an eye on my Instagram for an exclusive Rise & Fall discount code.)
Finally, we can’t ignore the part of the homebody economy that revolves around
kitchen table bedroom-office start-ups. The rise of blogging as a business alone must surely be responsible for a big chunk of the pyjama, cushion and desk accessory market. Frankly, my own personal consumption of pen pots and notebooks is enough to keep Liberty and Anthropologie afloat, while Luke Edward Hall is killing it with his various cushion, slipper and notecard collabs.
And interestingly, the reclusive millennial demographic seems to have spawned an entire, self-validating cottage industry of its own. Being introverted has never been so cool. Your ‘Introverted AF’ sweat is right there for the taking from any number of Etsy sellers; play your cards right and you need never leave the house ever again…
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Overose – Cindy Hyue; Drunk Elephant – As told by Ash and Shelbs; Summer Fridays – Beauté Défilé; Wonderer on a Couch – Isabelle Feliu; Labels for Lunch;
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