“The operating environment since reopening our six current locations of The Wing, 14 months ago has continued to prove extremely challenging,” read an email sent to members, obtained by Insider. “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.” A spokesperson for the holding company International Workplace Group, which owns a majority stake in The Wing, also confirmed to Bloomberg that the locations were closing permanently.
The Wing was founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan in 2016 with the promise of becoming a “women’s utopia.” At its height, the women-only club had 11 locations and a wait list of 9,000 people. But those days have long been gone, as many challenges battered The Wing over the years. The company was investigated by the NYC Commission on Human Rights and sued by a D.C. man over its membership policies, which were amended in 2019 to include members regardless of gender identity. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to close some locations and lay off staff.
Then the intended “women’s utopia” was exposed for mistreating many of its workers, particularly employees of color, in a way that ran against its self-proclaimed feminist values. Staff said the club’s culture was toxic and employees were underpaid. Workers of color alleged they experienced racism from both management and members. “There’s a lot of colored girls that work here,” a member once said after seeing a picture of Wing employees, according to the New York Times.
Gelman stepped down as CEO in the summer of 2020, telling staff her decision was “the right thing for the business, and the best way to bring The Wing along into a long overdue era of change.” (She has since launched her next act as the owner of a “country store” in Cobble Hill.) After the club reportedly considered bankruptcy, International Workplace Group bought out a controlling stake in early 2021. The club’s new CEO, Jen Cho, left in July after only five months in the role.
All of The Wing’s events, which were scheduled into September, have been canceled. As of Wednesday, the club’s website still allows you to apply for a membership, while comments on its Facebook and Instagram accounts have been disabled. Members will be allowed to access any of IWG’s locations in the U.S. until September 30, according to the email they received announcing the closure.
News of The Wing’s end wasn’t exactly surprising and was largely met with a shrug online. The prevailing question many of us have, however, is, What will happen to all its furniture? The Wing’s millennial-pink-hued interior, with mauve velvet chairs, modern side tables, and a full library, was a big hit with members and nonmembers alike. Hit us up if there’s a sale.