NEW YORK — The mushroom could soon trump the apple as everyone’s favorite cure-all if Origins has anything to say about it.
In October, the Estée Lauder Cos.-owned brand will introduce Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins, a line of mushroom-based antiaging products developed with the famed Harvard-educated doctor and botanist.
“We were reading Dr. Weil’s books at the time of the Origins launch [in 1990] and we really hung onto every word,” said Daria Myers, president of Origins and a founding member of the brand. Myers explained that, after being introduced to Weil about a year-and-a-half ago, she found that the pairing of Origins and Weil was an “easy fit.” “He’d just started to do commercial ventures and he was looking for brands to partner with — we found that we had very similar philosophies,” she said.
Weil, a bearded, Santa-esque figure who has spent the majority of his 30-year career championing the integrative medicine movement, will donate all of his aftertax profits from the sale of the line — which could do up to $25 million in retail sales globally in its first year on counter, according to industry sources — to the Weil Foundation, an organization dedicated to integrative medicine. Weil defines integrative medicine as a “healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle,” and stresses that, while the practice often incorporates nontraditional types of healing methods, it does not shun modern medicine completely. “It does not reject conventional medication, but asks that people think about when it’s appropriate to use it,” he said.
The line of four products — both topical and ingestible — is “just the beginning of a subbrand within Origins,” according to Myers, and is based on several types of mushrooms — from hypsizygus ulmarius to reishi mushrooms. It focuses on combating inflammation in the body, which Weil believes is the result of poor diet, inactivity and stress, among other causes. Inflammation often goes unnoticed and can lead to “accelerated” aging, according to Weil. He believes that a skin care regime that incorporates both topical and ingestible products is the most effective way to combat both inflammation and the aging process. And when it came time to develop the first round of products with Origins, he explained that incorporating mushrooms into the products seemed like a natural choice.
“I have a long history of studying medicinal mushrooms — they have immense health benefits, but there’s very little known about them in this part of the world,” he said. “They have anti-inflammatory effects and my research has led me to believe that chronic inflammation is really at the root of the cause of aging.”
Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Serum, $65, features hypsizygus ulmarius, cordyceps, reishi, ginger, turmeric, holy basil, resveratrol and argan nut oil, and is said to renew radiance and clarity in the skin, while the ingestible Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Supplement contains fresh berry, citrus fruits, black cherry, peach and spicy ginger and is meant to be used in conjunction with the serum to optimize the skin’s defenses against aging, according to the company. It features a fruity-spicy taste and will retail for $35. The ingestible Nite-trition Restful Sleep Supplement, also $35, should be used on an “as-needed” basis, according to executives, and contains melatonin, lavender, American ginseng and chamomile, which are meant to promote a more restful sleep. In December, Origins will launch an additional product, Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Cream, $58.50, to be used alongside the serum. It features hypsizygus ulmarius, chaga mushrooms and narcissus lily bulb extract, in addition to other ingredients.
While ingestibles and supplements are par for the course in the European beauty market, Americans haven’t been so quick to catch on, but Myers is confident that the name recognition of Dr. Weil will help ease consumers into the idea of incorporating ingestibles into their beauty routine. “There is a built-in audience and acceptance of [Weil] already,” said Myers. Indeed, the strength of Weil’s following is hard to dispute; the best-selling author’s Web site reportedly receives 1.8 million visitors a month and recently Weil was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in the field of “Scientists and Thinkers.” As a result, the company thinks the line will appeal to a broad age range: consumers in their 20s and beyond.
Ad spreads featuring the slogan, “What does a 63-year-old man with a white beard know about beauty?” and a picture of Dr. Weil will break in the November issues of women’s fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. In addition, the launch will be promoted with radio and newspaper advertising, as well as bill inserts and a presale campaign in-store. The line will be available in Origins’ full domestic retail distribution for a total of 125-plus freestanding Origins retail stores and 450 department stores.
Myers, who rejoined the Origins brand in December 2003 after stints at Lauder sister divisions Aveda and BeautyBank, said the heart of the Dr. Weil project is about focusing on the original vision of the Origins brand.
“I’ve felt since I came back that it was very important for us to return to our roots and reclaim our leadership in the area of wellness — Origins was never created to be just a beauty brand,” said Myers, adding, “It’s just the beginning — this [line] addresses inflammation, but there will be more.”