Brands, distributors, department stores: “quiet luxury wind” really bring new consumers?

The U.S. TV show “Inheritance” has created a wave of “quiet luxury”. The quiet luxury trend, in which the already affluent spend up to $10,000 on a sweater or cashmere baseball cap, has brought back to the forefront brands that were once understated and expensive. But we are curious, the popularity of the quiet luxury style really brought new consumers?
1. The Drivers of Quiet Luxury
If you want to know about “quiet luxury,” a style of clothing that’s expensive but not overtly branded, look no further than the cast of HBO’s Succession. “Some of the clothes are really nice,” said Alexander Skarsgård, a slim Swede, in an interview after a Fendi fashion show in June. He plays the scheming, often barefoot tech billionaire Lukas Matsson.
Personally, however, he’s not interested in the “ridiculously expensive cashmere sweaters that the characters wear” – “In real life, I like to be cozy, and I don’t buy a lot of clothes.” The first time he played Matsson, Skarsgård says, he wore his own Adidas slippers and a T-shirt he bought for 20 dollars. (For the interview at the Fendi cocktail party, incidentally, he wore a crisp beige polo shirt and tan pants, both Fendi pieces.)
For Skarsgård, who has a very versatile wardrobe, quiet luxury is too much of a rule. He prefers Matsson’s outfit from the show’s final episode, a bold, ornate gold jacket. (But he won’t buy it for himself “unless he’s drunk as hell.”) “The notion that if you’re part of this group, if you’re part of this social class, your dress code has to fall into a certain style, I think that’s ridiculous,” he says.
The term “quiet luxury” is becoming very popular in the fashion world. For example, everyone’s style icon has become, seemingly overnight, Kendall Roy, a character from Inheritance who likes to walk around the boardroom in white Tom Ford sneakers and a Loro Piana cashmere jacket. The popularity of “Inheritance” has also made the show’s cast sudden darlings of the menswear world, with successive brand ambassadorships and front-row seats at fashion shows.
Kieran Culkin, who plays the role of sensitive and foul-mouthed Roman Roy on the show, is the global ambassador for the Triple Stitch™ luxury loafers from billionaire favorite Zegna. In June, Jeremy Strong attended a gala dinner in the heart of Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week, co-hosted by Loro Piana and GQ magazine. Strong, who plays Kendall Roy, wears many of the finely tailored but extremely expensive Loro Piana garments on the show.
2. Brands, distributors and department store veterans debate: Is quiet luxury really popular?
But at the Pitti Uomo menswear show in Florence, the world’s largest, buyers and brands debated whether the trend was real outside of the HBO network. Piero Braga, chief executive of Italian fashion brand Slowear, said, “The American consumer is not immune to the quiet luxury trend and prefers to pay for texture.” Slowear’s best-known brand is Incotex, a trouser brand that offers premium textures and sophisticated cuts. In Braga’s view, there is indeed a group of customers who “can afford to enjoy a lot of the good things in life,” but who don’t parade around in clothes covered in big brand logos.
Just a few booths away, Simon Golby, director of menswear at distributor CD Network, scoffs at the notion. Everyone says it’s going to be quiet luxury,” he said. But there is no such thing as quiet luxury.” Yes, people don’t wear sweaters and slippers with Balenciaga letters on them anymore. But not everyone with money is now wearing Loro Piana cashmere hats and Open Walk suede shoes on private jets like Jeff Bezos. To prove it, he cites the success of one of his own brands, Italy’s Moon Boot, which puts out puffy boots with its own brand name on the top. “This winter, when everyone was saying the trend was quiet luxury, Moon Boot exploded and all the stock was sold out,” Golby says. Golby said. “There are a lot of rich people who like to show off,” agrees Golby with menswear industry veteran Nick Wooster, who has worked at luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and department store JCPenney, and is in his 34th year attending Pitti Uomo. This is his 34th year attending Pitti Uomo. At the same time, Wooster says, department stores have been selling 24-piece cashmere products to wealthy but underdressed customers. He says, “There’s always been this kind of understated customer, but now it’s becoming mainstream.”
The whole thing is a consumer-business match: consumers tired of conspicuous logos are turning to Zegna leather suede jackets or Brunello Cucinelli white jeans. On the other hand, retailers are also promoting “quiet luxury” to get those who bought Gucci’s fancy logo-laden tops to pull out their wallets again. (The media coverage of “Inheritance” and its costumes certainly contributed to this trend.)
3. What do the rich want to buy?
In this way, the debate about quiet luxury is just a repeat of a long-standing anxiety in the clothing world: what do the rich really want to buy?
Brunello Cucinelli, the king of Italian cashmere, knows this better than most. The U.S. is the biggest market for its eponymous brand, accounting for about 35 percent of its revenue, and Cucinelli is particularly favored by the American billionaire class (whose client list is known to include the likes of founder Bezos, Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff, and Instagram co-founder and former CEO Kevin Systrom). Systrom, among others). However, even with some wool baseball caps on offer, Cucinelli’s offerings don’t quite qualify as quiet luxury. At the show, the brand showed disco pointy-collar shirts and ornate pinstripe suits that were popular in the ’70s.
Cucinelli said he’s particularly concerned now with what kind of suits men are getting back into. You haven’t wanted to wear a suit in five or six years,” he says. Now you’re back to wanting one, but you don’t want those outdated suits.” In keeping with this more casual trend, he paired the suits with full ties and lightweight knitwear. At the other end of the show, jackets are crowding back onto the shelves, and Wooster says, “There are more customized jackets this year than there have been in the last three or four years combined.” As economic gloom hangs over the Tuscan sun, one can sense that major brands are turning to easy-to-grasp staples that sell on functionality rather than fashion.
Braga says Incotex recently broke out a suit, while casual brands like Harris Wharf are taking a middle ground between the couch and the office at home with loose knit sports jackets. Wooster particularly favors AMC, a Japanese brand founded by designer Aldo Maria Camilo that specializes in tailored leisure suits. For Wooster, AMC’s unstructured suits are reminiscent of the minimalist suits that made Giorgio Armani famous, the 1990s version of quiet luxury.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top