It’s the end of an era for The Wing, the coworking space and clubhouse designed as a so-called feminist utopia.
On the evening of Tuesday, August 30, all members received an email noting that The Wing would cease to exist, effective immediately. It's unknown if employees had any more notice about the closure. The Wing also removed the ability to comment on its Instagram page, which has 430K followers.
“The operating environment since reopening our six current locations of The Wing, 14 months ago has continued to prove extremely challenging. With the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and increasing global economic challenges, we have been unable to recover and grow the level of active membership and event activity necessary to run a financially sustainable operation,” said the email. “As a consequence, we are very sorry to say that all of The Wing locations will be closing permanently, and members will no longer have access with immediate effect.”
IWG, which purchased The Wing during the pandemic and reopened the Manhattan, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Chicago locations, is offering members the option to visit their other coworking spaces (Spaces, Signature, Regus and HQ) through September.
The Wing, created by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassen, debuted in Flatiron in 2017. The brand soon became a (controversial) phenomenon, expanding its stylish spaces down to SoHo and up to Bryant Park, and even across the bridge to DUMBO and briefly, opening in Williamsburg in February 2020 before the pandemic closed all five New York Wing locations. Once offering amenities like a lending library full of books by and about women, a childcare center, beauty rooms equipped with luxury products and Dyson hair tools, plus a cafe serving healthy-ish desk food like avocado toast and fattoush, The Wing's relaunch was sparse, with none of the former amenities offered.
Branded as a hub for women to work, socialize and attend events, like industry-specific network sessions, complimentary wellness and art classes, and screenings and panels with big name female celebrities, The Wing was often under fire for perceived elitism, an exclusionary membership method (pre-pandemic, an unlimited membership cost $250/month, comparable to the cost of WeWork), white supremacy, and numerous other issues members and social media prowesses were eager to point out.
In the summer of 2020, former employees spoke out about mismanagement at The Wing, Gelman stepped down as CEO and the future of the club was uncertain. Still, thanks to an investment from IWG, new leadership and a diverse advisory board, The Wing re-opened its three Manhattan spaces in 2021, requiring proof of vaccination to work from the space. Former members were offered a reduced rate, and the business model changed from there, offering various packages for monthly memberships to be inclusive and affordable.
Still, it seems the new tiered memberships, along with The Wing's tarnished reputation, couldn't save it.
As the news broke about the sudden closure on Tuesday night, many took to Twitter with a common question: What will happen to all that great furniture? Stoop hunting near the shuttered spaces may be a good idea (the Williamsburg space cleared out in June 2020, with plenty of branded dishware and other items abandoned on the sidewalk) or perhaps a liquidation sale is in the future?
Unclear what will happen to the now-vacant coworking spaces (perhaps another company will take over?), but this isn’t the last coworking space to cater specifically to women and marginalized groups. In NoMad, Luminary offers a similar business model, offering a feminist coworking space, professional network and rooftop restaurant, The Glass Ceiling. In Flatiron, Chief is designed as a chic clubhouse and networking venue for women in the C-suite. And in Williamsburg, QueerSpace offers a safe space for LGBTQIA+ professionals to work together (at a bar) on weekdays, and a $45 monthly membership includes unlimited coffee, plus light snack and happy hour specials.