Even if you are not familiar with the term “Quiet Luxury”, you would probably recognise it if you saw it. The trend is a world away from Loud Luxury, with its oversized logos, emblems and motifs, across everything from luggage to unsurprisingly has also garnered itself the nickname as the “Uniqlo for billionaires”).
However, in the past 18 months, the trend has started to proliferate beyond the superyachts off the coast of Monte Carlo. Some have suggested this is in part due to the small screen triumph of the HBO show, “Succession”. The show, which follows a family of billionaire media tycoons living in New York, sees the characters dressed in Loro Piana, Zegna and The Row. A particular scene which went viral on social media from the recent final season, saw the family’s nephew, Greg, being told that his date – who he had brought to a large family gathering – had made “an enormous faux pas.” Her crime? Bringing a large “loud” designer handbag to the occasion, covered in a luxury house emblem, which is seen as ostentatious and in “poor taste” by the host family.
T-shirts. Quiet Luxury, instead, as the adage goes, doesn’t speak, it whispers. The trend is all about the understated – focused on classic, sophisticated silhouettes, in neutral shades such as white, beige and navy. Brand logos are never on show – instead, pieces are hallmarked by unique stitch detailing and hard-to-source materials.
For some time, Quiet Luxury has been a way for the one per cent to distinguish themselves from the merely “rich”. Mark Zuckerberg – aka the owner of Meta and one of the wealthiest men on Earth – is regularly spotted in an understated grey t-shirt. It’s not just any grey t-shirt. However, it is custom made by the king of cashmere, Brunello Cucinelli at $300-400 per shirt (a house which perhaps unsurprisingly has also garnered itself the nickname as the “Uniqlo for billionaires”).
However, in the past 18 months, the trend has started to proliferate beyond the superyachts off the coast of Monte Carlo. Some have suggested this is in part due to the small screen triumph of the HBO show, “Succession”. The show, which follows a family of billionaire media tycoons living in New York, sees the characters dressed in Loro Piana, Zegna and The Row. A particular scene that went viral on social media from the recent final season saw the family’s nephew, Greg, being told that his date – who he had brought to a large family gathering – had made “an enormous faux pas.” Her crime? Bringing a large “loud” designer handbag to the occasion, covered in a luxury house emblem, which is seen as ostentatious and in “poor taste” by the host family.
According to Sébastien Létrange, chairman of French luxury house LÉTRANGE, loud emblem-driven luxury is “traditionally [about] a product that will provide an immediate statement. The customer wants to be ‘seen’ as a member of a particular club that he or she is part of, or wants to belong to.” By inference, the Quiet Luxury customer already belongs to the club and does not feel a need to make a “loud” statement about their wealth status. In this way Quiet and Loud Luxury has become seen as an offshoot of a more established, talked about trend – Old vs New Money.
Earlier this year, news about Gwyneth Paltrow’s courtroom appearance (due to the mother of all Old Money reasons – a ski incident) quickly became overtaken by online discussion regarding her style choices in court. The case became a lesson in Quiet Luxury, with the Goop CEO appearing in a thought-out curation of Quiet Luxury brands each day of the trial. Indeed, as Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute in New York commented in The Guardian at the time that the case took place: “These brands are easily recognised by members of their tribe…The wearer makes a statement without having to try to make a statement. Everyone who should know, knows.”
It’s also something that has gripped recent fashion weeks. Beyond the staple Quiet Luxury houses, those usually associated with bolder designs are taking note for the new season. At the recent Prada SS24 menswear show, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons used a simple white shirt as a focal point for “a reconsideration of simple things.” Meanwhile, Kaia Gerber led the Valentino runway for the FW23 Haute Couture show, wearing, at first look, a simple shirt and jeans combination – which – at closer examination, were faux jeans made out of gazar and embroidered with glass beads. Indeed, this is indicative perhaps of an increasing appetite amongst buyers for material integrity rather than spectacle: “Some of the bigger ‘logo brands’ are becoming so massive that, for some people, lots of their products are no longer a sign of distinction, nor a sign of quality despite very high prices because [the budget spent on] marketing has become such a heavy part of the pricing,” explains Létrange. “Quiet Luxury is all about focusing on the ‘excellency’ of a product, rather than worrying about what is required to make it recognisable to the masses,” he continues.
But it’s not just the runway shows and larger houses that are responding to the growth in popularity in the trend – sometimes known as “Stealth Wealth” – it is also becoming substantially more visible online. The term “Quiet Luxury” has gained more than 38.5 billion views, while Google has seen an increase in the search term (along with it the similar terms “Stealth Wealth” and “Old Money” increased more than 900% in terms of search. Meanwhile, the Instagram account The Gstaad Guy – which features a fictional Loro Piana superfan played by comedian Mac Anabtawi – regularly racks up hundreds of thousands of views with his Quiet Luxury comedy. The trend has started to filter down too, with high street labels offering cheaper takes on the expensive Quiet Luxury looks – something which is arguably harder for them to do, with“louder” pieces that demand a specific brand logo showcased on the design in an obvious way.
So what does this mean for the future of Quiet Luxury – is the mainstream appetite for Quiet Luxury at odds with its exclusivity and a potential reason for its demise? According to Ian Griffiths, the Creative Director of Max Mara, it’s not likely to disappear anytime soon. “I think the world has always divided itself into two camps: luxury and bling. And it will always be that way. Just because a woman adheres to quiet luxury doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be noticed. Quiet luxury is about clothes that frame the wearer’s style and beauty.” Létrange agrees, saying he believes that Quiet Luxury will stay relatively niche. “It’s for the happy few. Historically, luxury has never been about mass production. It is about limited production – and I believe it will stay this way, catering to the consumer who truly places importance on products that last a lifetime.”