Quiet luxury: all you need to know about the 2023 trend
Ilze du Toit of agency Relevance breaks down one of 2023’s hottest fashion and design trends: ‘quiet luxury’ or ‘stealth wealth’.
What's behind 2023's 'quiet luxury' trend? / Credit: Indira / Shutterstock
The saying ‘money screams, wealth whispers’ could not be more accurate in 2023 following the rise of the latest trend in the high-net-worth (HNW) and ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) marketing sectors: ‘quiet luxury’.
This breakthrough trend has seen a shift towards logo-free fashion and products, with a focus on exquisite materials and muted tones. UHNWs are showing a growing cultural fascination with quiet luxury, focussing on costly pieces from high-end brands that are meant to appear understated.
Here’s all you need to know about quiet luxury – one of the most significant trends of the year.
What is quiet luxury?
Whether you refer to it as ‘quiet luxury’, ‘stealth wealth’, ‘old money aesthetic’, or ‘silent luxury’, it’s a recurring fashion movement focusing on investing in minimalist pieces of the highest quality with timeless appeal. At its core, quiet luxury celebrates the power of subtlety and the beauty of restraint. Instead of projecting wealth, quiet luxury creates a wardrobe full of high-end everyday staples that speak to a more sophisticated understanding of style.
Although this term is making headlines in 2023, the personification of quiet luxury has existed for centuries. In the Renaissance, wealthy Italians would commission fine artists and craftsmen to create bespoke garments and accessories that were unique, personalized, and of exceptional quality (with no logos or brand names in sight). Fine fabrics, intricate embroidery, and subtle embellishments were the hallmarks of quiet luxury. Pieces were designed to last a lifetime.
More recently, quiet luxury went global when designer labels like Bottega Veneta, The Row, and JW Anderson began creating exclusive, understated collections for high-end clientele. Other brands that embody stealth wealth include Italian labels Brunello Cucinelli and Ermenegildo Zegna, which creates custom-made suits and shoes for discerning clients.
The quiet luxury trend
There has been an explosion of interest in stealth wealth across the globe. Over the past year, Google searches for the term ‘quiet luxury’ grew by a staggering 614%. Terms like ‘old-money outfit’ have 50,000 searches per month, while ‘old-money aesthetic’ gathers more than 74,000. Searches are at a record high. According to fashion brand Karen Millen, there are two main reasons.
1. The ‘Succession effect’
Much of this unprecedented growth and increased popularity can be attributed to the premiere of the 4th season of HBO drama Succession. The series has swept the Western world and centers around the Roy family, owners of a global media and entertainment conglomerate. The storyline follows the four Roy siblings’ fight for control of the company while uncertain about the health of the family’s patriarch, each with their own agenda.
Terms like ‘old-money style’ and ‘old-money aesthetic’ are having their moment on TikTok too, and have seen an impressive 25,000 monthly searches since Succession premiered. This is especially popular with millennials and gen Z audiences. The trend is here to stay.
2. Gwyneth Paltrow’s civil court case
Another standout moment for quiet luxury in 2023 was Gwyneth Paltrow’s civil court case in Utah in March. The actress and owner of lifestyle brand Goop was accused of causing a ski collision on a ski slope in Park City, Utah. Impeccably (and some would say strategically) dressed in browns and beige cashmere, head-to-toe Prada and Celine boots, her wardrobe was a major point of discussion during the trial. Many called it the epitome of streamline-chic. It was also speculated that Paltrow’s clothes projected a degree of motherly innocence, helping to sway the jury.
“She can wear a $25,000 necklace and $1,500 Prada boots, and unless you’re a fashion insider, you may not know,” says Liz Teich, who runs The New York Stylist, adding: “It's like an ‘if you know, you know’ nod among the super-rich, as logos have become flashy and feel cheap.”
Silent luxury at home
Although the roots of this trend can be found in fashion, the aesthetic extends well beyond the fashion industry. From the runway straight into homes, the latest industry to adopt an ‘old-money’ approach is interior design. Quiet luxury in the home flies under the radar. This means that the source or creator shouldn't be immediately obvious; it’s only when you look closer that the quality, form, and craftsmanship reveal its designer pedigree.
The quiet luxury trend within home decor also mirrors the desire for people to create spaces at home that are quiet and calm but also luxurious and inviting. The trend is personified by soft, muted color schemes, earthy tones, and high-quality, sustainable materials with organic forms. The aim is to create an interior that is not loud or showy but peaceful and calming; free from clutter with a pared-back aesthetic.
A great example of quiet luxury in the home is the project of British architect John Pawson. Life House, completed in 2016 and located in Mid Wales, was designed as a place for calm and reflection. It is superbly crafted and includes many classic and bespoke pieces of furniture and design, a distinct characteristic of the silent luxury movement. The property and its interior are timeless examples of architectural simplicity and beauty based on the concept of a retreat, where serenity, contemplation and restoration are foremost.
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Quiet luxury marketing
Luxury brands wishing to embrace the trend in quiet luxury need unique marketing strategies that are highly targeted to resonate with HNW and UHNWIs. This includes carefully crafted content that taps into the key points of quiet luxury, including exclusivity, uniqueness, exquisite craftsmanship and quality. Products that fall into the silent luxury category must portray a sense of timelessness, tradition, and heritage.
Given the recent surge in demand for serene luxury in the fashion industry and interior spaces, virtually no industry will be exempt from the trend’s influence.
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Relevance is a strategic and creative digital marketing agency specialising in profiling and targeting Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals for the world's most exclusive brands and companies.Find out more