Wealthy People Still Spend Money But Keep Low Profile

    23 April 2023

    With an ongoing war in Europe, high energy prices and food shortages, some wealthy people find themselves wanting to spend their money in ways that do not draw attention.

    Even in the current economic climate, many people who have a lot of money are still buying costly items such as fine wool clothing and leather bags. However, they are purchasing items without the large company logos and lettering that were once so popular.

    Some observers are calling it "stealth wealth." Stealth is another word for secret or quiet.

    FILE - Actor Gwyneth Paltrow enters the courtroom as her ski crash trial continues, in Park City, Utah, U.S., March 22, 2023. Those who follow fashion noticed that she did not wear anything flashy. (Rick Bowmer/Pool via REUTERS)
    FILE - Actor Gwyneth Paltrow enters the courtroom as her ski crash trial continues, in Park City, Utah, U.S., March 22, 2023. Those who follow fashion noticed that she did not wear anything "flashy." (Rick Bowmer/Pool via REUTERS)

    Expert observers who follow the buying trends of wealthy people say they have recently noticed the change. They point to the clothing worn by actor and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow during her recent televised legal case. Paltrow wore clothing from costly makers such as Prada and Celine. However, nothing she wore was flashy. Things that are flashy are especially bright or noticeable.

    Observers also see the clothes worn by the actors on the popular HBO television show Succession. The show follows the wealthy family of a television company owner. The actors wear clothes and carry items that look good but do not clearly show the names of the companies that make them.

    On the television show, which is in its final season, viewers have watched for clues about the characters' clothing since 2018.

    Michelle Matland is the costume designer for the show. She said the wealthy Roy family on the show does not wear clothing with "bling quality." Matland used the real-life Kardashian family as an example of people who wear bling -- clothing and jewelry that are meant to be noticed.

    The Roy family wears dark clothing and baseball hats without logos or names. At one point in the story, an outsider gives Logan Roy, the head of the Roy family, a costly but flashy Patek Philippe watch. Logan does not say "thank you" and later gives it away. Watches of that kind can cost $300,000. But the Roy family does not wear items that "look" costly.

    Jodi Kahn is vice president of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus, an American store that is known for selling costly items. She said she and others in her line of work have found that brands such as Loewe, Saint Laurent and Miu Miu have "leaned into the more classic sensibility."

    Martin Pedraza is the head of The Luxury Institute, a consulting business. He said the idea of "stealth wealth" comes up every time people get worried about the economy. Those who have a lot of money want to dress like average people but they can still afford costly items. So companies that make high-priced clothing sell items that do not look extreme.

    As a result, the wealthy person does not clearly look wealthy. Pedraza said that happened in the 1990s as well as during the economic recession that started in 2008.

    Even with the current trend of people buying items that are not flashy, Pedraza said some brands will never change. They will always want their name in big letters and use bright colors.

    "There will always be people who want the logos" Pedraza said. "Chanel could (never) give up its logo."

    I'm Dan Friedell.

    Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by the Associated Press.


    Words in This Story

    logo–n. an emblem or symbol of a brand or company

    stealth –adj. difficult to see or hear

    wealth –n. the state of having a large amount of money

    trend –n. a current way of living or thinking

    flashy –adj. done with the goal of receiving attention

    item –n. a thing

    luxury –adj. something that is high quality and costly

    character –n. a person in a story

    costume –n. the dress or style of clothing worn by a person in a performance such as a play or film

    bling –n. something shiny or flashy

    to lean in –v. to accept something and put your energy toward it

    classic –adj. something old that is respected

    sensibility –n. the kinds of feelings that a certain type of person tends to have

    afford –v. to have the money to spend on something

    recession –n. a period of economic problems, where spending and profits decline and losses increase