air of sophistication
Would you spend US$100 on a breath of fresh air? Madeleine Ross investigates the rise of “air farming,” and whether it’s worth splurging on one fine gasp
Would you spend US$100 on a breath of fresh air? We investigate the rise of “air farming,” and whether it’s worth splurging on one fine gasp
We like to think of ourselves as the Hermès of air,” says Moses Lam, founder of Canadian start-up Vitality Air. The 32 year-old former mortgage broker represents an emerging class of entrepreneurs who refer to themselves as “air farmers.” In their quest to transform fresh air into a commodity, these atmospheric agronomists travel to places renowned for their purity—before bottling, canning or jarring the air that they then flog, at a premium, to consumers in polluted parts of Asia.
“Places like China and India are huge for us. There is great pollution there, but also huge populations,” says Lam. “Korea is really phenomenal for us as well because the pollution from China blows over.” Lam, who started his business in 2014, collects air from Banff and Lake Louise in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, which he sells in single cans, twin packs or five-packs. “Our typical customer is rich, knowledgeable and well travelled. Most enjoy the finer things in life: nice timepieces like Rolex watches and imported cars like BMWS and Ferraris.”
Similar companies have sprung up since Lam launched Vitality Air. Aethaer, founded at the end of 2015 by 28 year-old Briton Leo
De Watts, sells air from Wales, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Yorkshire in Kilnerstyle airtight jars for £80 (HK$810) a pop. De Watts says his air gift packs, which include air from various locations, are particularly popular with Mainland Chinese consumers around Chinese New Year. “People traditionally give lai see packets to their friends and colleagues to wish them health and prosperity for the year ahead. With air pollution being such a big issue, money is great— but really, what they need is clean fresh air,” says De Watts.
Green & Clean, which is based in Australia, gathers air from the likes of Sydney’s Bondi Beach, Blue Mountains and the Gold Coast.