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.
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