Amidst the glittering excess and dazzling displays of other current fashion trends, a new aesthetic has emerged, and it goes by the name of “Quiet Luxury.”
This emerging trend embraces subtlety as it challenges conventional notions of extravagance, urging followers to redefine the essence of true elegance. While the concept itself is not completely new, it’s beginning to gain the attention of the mainstream fashion scene.
What Exactly is Quiet Luxury?
“The term ‘Quiet Luxury’ or ‘Stealth Luxury’ is used in the fashion industry to characterize understated designs that communicate wealth and status through fine craftsmanship and materials, rather than flashy logos,” explains Demetra Arvanitis, owner of a website dedicated to selling secondhand luxury fashion online.
This concept favors muted palettes that are logo-free and high-quality. It’s far less noticeable than the logo mania the fashion industry previously preferred.
“It promotes buying fewer but better items that are easily mixed-and-matched and on point season after season,” explains Carol Davidson, an NYC-based image and style coach.
To embrace this aesthetic, fashion lovers trade polyester and other synthetic materials for quality fabrics such as silk, 100 percent cotton, linen, leather, cashmere, and wool. Clothing that fits or is tailored is also a hallmark of the Quiet Luxury look.
Carly Landig, a fashion stylist and creative consultant, sums up the aesthetic perfectly as, “If you know, you know.”
Why Quiet Luxury is Trending
Several factors are at play in why Quiet Luxury is becoming so popular in fashion.
The first element comes from the hit television series Succession. Arvanitis explains, “This show delves into the intricate dynamics of a wealthy and powerful family. It emphasizes understated elegance and refined taste without the need for over-branding. The show caused spikes in sales of the Loro Piana Ball caps, Loro Piana Summer Walks Sandals, Tom Ford Shirts, and Brunello Cucinelli Vests.”
Pandemic fashion may also be at play with the newfound interest in Quiet Luxury.
“My clients are still holding onto some pandemic dressing standards, one of which is the desire for comfortable fabrics next to their skin. Inherently, these are more quality fabrics,” explains Davidson. “What’s more, after wearing the same items for almost 2.5 years, clients have realized that they don’t need as much. They’ve Marie Kondo-ed their closet and adopted a less-is-more philosophy.”
Several stylists also felt the unstable economy helped create the Quiet Luxury aesthetic. “It is a timeless aesthetic and was also a major part of the fashion on and off the runway in the 2010s just after the housing market crisis,” said Arvanitis. “Normcore” was the term used then and was associated with Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
While these looks may seem boring to some, they aren’t inexpensive.
Brands Associated With Quiet Luxury
“Brands like The Row, Tom Ford, Loro Pian, and Brunello Cucinelli are leaders in the Quiet Luxury market,” says Arvanitis.
Khaite, Toteme, and Bottega Veneta are more designer brands Landig says are good fashion guides for Quiet Luxury.
However, to put these brand’s price tags into perspective, the average T-shirt by Tom Ford retails for more than $100, and a T-shirt from Brunello Cucinelli will typically set a person back more than $500. For a Quiet Luxury handbag from Bottega Veneta, customers should prepare to spend approximately $2,000+.
Incorporating Quiet Luxury into Your Wardrobe
Fortunately, there are ways to embrace the Quiet Luxury look without breaking the bank.
Buying items that have a similar look can be achieved with more affordable brands such as COS, J Crew, Banana Republic, and Ralph Lauren. “The big thing is to have pieces that can be layered, mixed, and matched and either dressed up or down, and again, it’s about creating a palette of tones, fabrics, and long-term pieces,” Arvanitis explains.
Buying second-hand luxury items is another way to save money and find unique luxury items. Second-Hand luxury clothing and accessories can be purchased online from websites like The RealReal, What Goes Around Comes Around, The Fashionphile, and more.
“You can find high quality at various price points if you know what to look for,” Davidson shares. “This includes natural or mostly natural fabrics as these will wear better and have a longer life than synthetics, lighter weight garments that can be layered to transition the seasons, and neutral colors that defy trends and won’t date. This promotes items that can be worn on rotation, which means a lower cost-per-wear. I always advise building a quality wardrobe, piece by piece and over time.”
Regarding specific outfits, Arvanitis says weekend looks for men can be neutral-colored pants, like a deep sand color, a quality T-shirt, and a tremendous open cardigan. “For women, I would channel the look of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy or Sofia Richie. Both women have executed quiet luxury 20 years apart, proving the style is timeless. For example, a great pair of jeans, a crisp white button-up, and great leather loafers.”
The Environmental Impact of Quiet Luxury
Amidst the fashion industry’s staggering contribution of 2-8 percent to global carbon emissions, recent trends have raised environmental concerns. The most troubling fashion trend to emerge is so-called ‘Fast fashion.’ Fast fashion is essentially the opposite of quiet luxury as it is a business model that churns out fashion as quickly as possible. Pieces are generally inexpensive, but of poor quality, and contributes to a throwaway culture where clothing is often discarded after only a few wears.
Quiet Luxury emerges as a promising stride towards sustainability, presenting a positive direction for the future of fashion.
“Buying quality pieces means they will have a longer life and be replaced less frequently. What’s more, neutral colors and classic styling means more outfits with fewer pieces on point for years to come,” Davidson said. “All of this leads to a more sustainable and conscious approach to fashion.”
Quiet Luxury is a symbol of sophistication and sustainability, encouraging fashion enthusiasts to adopt a more conscious and timeless style, celebrating subtlety and mindful consumption, where true luxury can coexist harmoniously with the environment.