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If you need evidence of the impeccable branding surrounding The Wing, a members-only women’s club in Manhattan that launched to great fanfare in October, look no further than this: A shower cap, pastel mint in hue, dotted with “Ws” in a variety of retro and whimsical fonts.
It’s kind of a funny product, because shower caps are kind of funny, but chic in an Instagram-friendly way and made of a durable vinyl that was clearly selected by someone who understands the anatomy of a superior shower cap. It suggests a level of sisterly care consistent with The Wing’s mission to build female community by giving busy women a shared space to work, store their laptop and gym bag, have a coffee and kick back on a pale pink couch, or, in fact, take a shower.
You can now buy that shower cap — a slice of millennial feminist utopia — for $20 through The Wing’s new online shop, which goes live today.
You can also purchase a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “New York Woman,” stylized like the New York Post logo, and another that reads “My interests include music, science, justice, animals, shapes, feelings,” to quote Lisa Simpson. You can find pencils that have the names of women like Michelle Obama, Winona Ryder, and Benazir Bhutto neatly typed on them, and keychains that say “Girls doing whatever the fuck they want in 2017.”
Importantly, you don’t have to be a member of The Wing to do so. In many ways, the store is very much for people who aren’t.
“We just wanted to make these boxes as a token of how psyched we were that these women were early adopters and enthusiastic about what we were doing,” says Audrey Gelman, a communications whiz and New York fixture who founded the The Wing with Lauren Kassan, previously a director of studio empowerment at ClassPass. To do so, Gelman and Kassan turned to an all-female team at Pentagram, the design firm that developed its overall branding.
Naturally, that welcome swag got Instagrammed, and soon non-members were asking where they could buy product. Asked one such commenter: “Anyways [sic] this is available without membership?? Online shop maybe for those who can't afford membership/ aren't in NYC???”
Joining The Wing costs $185 monthly or $1,950 annually, plus tax and a one-time $100 registration fee. (The organization has received some criticism for being prohibitively expensive, though consistent access to a WeWork coworking space starts at $220 a month.) Membership has reached 500, and there’s currently a long waitlist to join; to handle that interest, The Wing is opening a second location in Soho this spring.
For likeminded women whose admission to the club is stymied by geography, budget, or the simple physics of a bottleneck, merch may be the way to go.
“It's for women who feel a certain way and think a certain way, and that way has a level of intelligence, camaraderie, openness, and humor to it,” says Pentagram’s Emily Oberman. “Even in these dark times, this is an optimistic brand and I think that anyone can be part of it, without being a member of The Wing.”
There are sweatshirts and socks on the horizon, but for now, the organization is only selling Pentagram-designed products, with the exception of a $3 button in support of Planned Parenthood created by the artist Marilyn Minter, a founding member of The Wing. Though it would be easy to imagine a Wing-operated marketplace filled with goods from brands run by women, including the creatives in its existing community, Gelman acknowledges that a retail venture of that nature would be a big undertaking relative to the minuscule staff’s current capacity.
“We’re just thrilled that we made it through this year,” she says.