"Hey Buddha, nice Tom Fords"

"Hey Buddha, nice Tom Fords"

Succession and Quiet Luxury

Up until fairly recently, the richest people one could imagine were mere multi-millionaires. They were a minority among the population, but were still a loud demographic, easy to spot in a crowd. A certain photography book comes to mind, one that this author procured from the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, entitled Rodeo Drive 1984 by the American photographer Anthony Hernandez.

The photographs capture the general public, both rich and regular, as they shop on the famed Los Angeles retail street. The rich look rich, at least in a classic twentieth century way. The men wear wide-lapelled double-breasted jackets with preppy sweaters, perfect for the yacht club, and the women wear enormous Gucci sunglasses, bouffant hair, and yellow-gold jewellery. It was a stereotypical look that endured throughout the last century, and it signified the obvious other; a world that could not be entered into by the masses.
From Anthony Hernandez' Rodeo Drive 1984

However, two major changes have become increasingly obvious over the last decade and a half; firstly, brands once reserved for the rich have been incorporated into the wider streetwear uniform, and secondly the millionaire has been left in the dust by the rise of the multi-billionaire.

The new tech oligarchy has unfathomably vast reserves of wealth, and one may think that more money equals gaudier clothing, as it has in the past. But one would be incorrect. Whilst Dover Street Market fanboys and teenage sneakerheads can now be seen rocking Gucci North Face puffer jackets, Prada sling bags, and Balenciaga trainers, the wardrobe of the billionaires falls under a new category known as Quiet Luxury. The perfect way to get acquainted with quiet luxury is through everyone’s favourite zeitgeist television series Succession, which is currently airing its final season.

The Supreme X Louis Vuitton collaboration

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, the show follows an American family with a megalomaniacal patriarch at the head. It dwells on the adult children as they clash with each other and their father over the family business. The family may or may not be based on the Murdoch family (but absolutely is, no doubt about it). What with this being a show centred on business people doing businessy things, there is a hefty amount of tailoring on show, and we’re not talking about ill-fitting electric blue salesman suits. The instagram account @successionfashion brings in to focus such pieces as Tom Wombsgans’ cream linen-silk blend Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit worn at a certain Italian wedding, Kendall Roy’s grey Brunello Cucinelli prince of wales flannel suit worn at the same wedding, and Shiv Roy’s selection of sharp Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford blazers. These pieces are luxurious, relatively relaxed, and certainly elegant. However they still look expensive, and fall under the world of tailoring, and therefore aren't the perfect examples of quiet luxury.

Shiv Roy, Tom Wombsgans, and Kendall Roy

We must look to Kendall Roy, expertly portrayed by Jeremy Strong, as the embodiment of this newfound trend in aesthetics. Kendall’s character fluctuates in terms of his social standing and favour within the family, but from the beginning of season three the man becomes somewhat of a style icon, and his style reflects his attitude towards business.

One would be hard-pressed to find an example of Kendall wearing a tie, or a shirt with the top two buttons done up, even when he is attending meetings over potential multi-billion dollar deals. Is this some form of insolence? Everyone else in attendance is immaculately presented in suits and ties; does Kendall simply not care? Quite the opposite in fact, as Kendall is so invested in what’s at stake that he uses his wardrobe as a visual form of power play. What is more intimidating in a high-stakes deal: someone who dresses like they’re part of a team of lawyers and Yes Men, or someone who thinks the deal isn’t important enough to warrant a suit?

Kendall crying in Loro Piana

Kendall’s faux-nonchalance is actualised by the simple act of dressing in basics all the time. No, not Uniqlo or Primark, but the literal opposite of the scale. Two brands in particular can be held most accountable for this visual lifestyle, and they are Tom Ford and Loro Piana. Take, for example, episodes three and four of the latest season. Without spoiling anything, Kendall is in a state of shock and grief, inconsolable on a yacht (of course). The man grieves much in the same way that normal people do, except the major difference can be summed up by some @successionfashion comments: “Sad boi breaking down in Tom Ford”, and “I, too, grieve while wearing a $1200 shirt” ($1295, to be exact). Later, Ken is in talks over the future of the family business whilst wearing a simple navy polo top, except this one is a cashmere and silk blend from Mr Ford priced at $1490. It may not seem like something to dwell on necessarily, but it’s the subtle and coded choices that make the quiet luxury wardrobe so loaded.

Kendall crying in Tom Ford

A moment from season four that has become an instant classic in this author’s mind is when the three Roy siblings are being denied access to the family helicopter as a result of their father’s vindictive nature. Both Roman and Shiv feel heavily slighted by this act, and are venting their anger at the poor representative from the company. Kendall, in an attempt to remain calm and collected, proffers “You know, in Buddhism, sometimes your greatest tormentor can also be your most perceptive teacher”, to which his brother responds “Hey Buddha - nice Tom Fords”. The comment is more than just a bit of witty repartee; it hits at the core of what quiet luxury is all about. The intention of the aesthetic is to appear cool, calm, and collected, but in attempting to dress down and appear inconspicuous Kendall draws more attention to himself. Through trying to appear nonchalant and informal, he manages to alienate himself from both his siblings and the average Joe. It’s quite an achievement.

Kendall putting on some Lanvin sneakers purchased exclusively to fire an entire workforce

The Tom Fords in question are part of one of Kendall’s greatest ensembles. To the layman, he’s just in his Sunday sloppies; t-shirt, jeans, bomber jacket, sneakers, baseball cap. Here @successionfashion once again comes to the rescue, revealing the true nature of the outfit. 
The sneakers? Gucci, $890.
The jeans? Tom Ford, $750.
The T-shirt? Tom Ford, $240.
The bomber? Tom Ford, $6,490.
And the cherry on top: the baseball cap, which is a cheap and cheerful $625 cashmere number from Loro Piana.

The humble baseball cap is meant to be one of the most accessible, universal items of clothing, and yet there is clearly a market for outrageously expensive iterations of the everyman’s hat. And why? For no other reason than to maintain the age old power dynamic between the rich and the poor. Quiet luxury is not a way for the rich to attempt blending in with the masses, but rather a way for the rich to subvert their own uniform, and to appropriate the aesthetics of relaxation. This may sound like a polemic, or maybe a job application for Novara Media, so remember that this author’s opinion is just that: opinion. Just pay close attention to Kendall Roy the next time you turn on the television, and judge for yourself whether quiet luxury really is as quiet as it sounds.
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