Barneys Is Adding a Cannabis Department

Can weed save department stores?

A rendering of The High End. Photo: Courtesy of Barneys

It wasn’t that long ago that acquiring marijuana felt like a perilous, intimidating task, even if it was legal. Dispensaries were often dingy, windowless spaces with product behind bulletproof glass and armed guards lending the unshakable feeling that things could escalate into a shoot-out at any moment. But now, there are beautiful Apple Store-esque storefronts like Med Men making weed procurement feel like a relatively normal and accessible part of everyday life — and Barneys is taking things to another level. Soon, you’ll be able to grab a bite at Fred’s, then pick up weed at the same time as your Prada bags and The Row sweaters. Well, sort of.

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In late March, Barneys will become the first major retailer to open a cannabis department. Called The High End, the 300-square-foot shop-in-shop will be situated on the fifth floor of Barneys’s Beverly Hills flagship. The new space will carry upscale cannabis accessories and wellness products containing CBD; as for actual THC-containing cannabis, Barneys can’t technically sell you that because it’s not a dispensary. However, through an exclusive partnership with fashion-adjacent cannabis company Beboe (The New York Times called it the "Hermes of Marijuana") and its industry-beloved tattoo artist co-founder Scott Campbell, the shop will include an exclusive silver limited-edition vaporizer pen with a strain developed especially for The High End, along with a selection of the brand’s pastilles. Shoppers can learn about the products from on-site Beboe representatives and then order them through a white-glove local delivery service.

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"I’m so thrilled that cannabis culture has come so far that it can exist and feel perfectly at home in such a prestigious context as Barneys New York," said Campbell in a statement.

"Barneys New York has always been at the forefront of shifts in culture and lifestyle, and cannabis is no exception," said Barneys Chief Executive Officer & President, Daniella Vitale. "Many of our customers have made cannabis a part of their lifestyle, and The High End caters to their needs with extraordinary products and service they experience in every facet of Barneys New York."

While the Beboe set-up will be exclusive to the Beverly Hills store, many of the accessories and CBD products will also be available online when the shop opens. (An exact date has yet to be announced.) It’s worth noting that Barneys is Barneys, and it’s bringing the same elevated, exclusive and expensive approach to The High End buy that it does to ready-to-wear and fashion accessories. That means you’ll find things like horn lighters from Lorenzi Milano, leather ashtrays and lighters from Giobagnara, gold rolling papers from Shine and custom-made blown glass pipes from Siemon & Salazar. There will even be a selection of vintage paraphernalia. Additionally, CBD-infused beauty and wellness products will come from brands like The Good Patch, Vertly, Saint Jane, Foria, Lab to Beauty, Flora and Bast, Tres Monet, Heretic, Malin + Goetz, Body Vibes, Dedcool and Boysmells.

According to the press release, Barneys will continue to roll out new products and collaborations for The High End and expand into additional locations "in the near future." Some CBD products are also sold in other stores already and we’re told Barneys plans to make an even bigger push into the CBD beauty space soon.

As legacy retailers and department stores have struggled to attract shoppers due to shifting consumer habits and millennial preferences, wellness has become a very popular avenue to expand into (along with influencer brands and streetwear, which Barneys has latched onto recently). Saks Fifth Avenue, for instance, opened its own wellness center in 2017. With cannabis becoming increasingly aligned with wellness in markets like Los Angeles, and with pot simply being a substance that’s cool amongst the youths, it makes sense for a retailer like Barneys to get on board. Some people will probably show up just for the novelty of it, and renderings suggest the space will be quite Instagram-friendly.

It will be interesting to see whether more retailers jump on this bandwagon; it seems likely, and there are plenty of well-funded cannabis startups like Beboe who are after a luxury consumer that would be on board for similar partnerships. Meanwhile, multiple retailers are already vying to become the "Sephora of CBD." It’s a whole new world.

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