Succession took the world by storm this year, and with it, so did Kendall Roy’s go-to Loro Piana baseball cap. Which, to the dismay of many, is a cashmere hat that costs around $500. And before truly immersing myself into the world of fashion, I, like many of the show’s fans, would have found that price absurd.
But let's get into why it's priced that way. Loro Piana uses baby cashmere, one of the highest quality materials, and all of their pieces are handcrafted by artisans in Italy. These artisans are paid appropriate wages for their meticulous craftsmanship, whereas many labels overwork and underpay their manufacturers. The price we pay for the garments, even a baseball hat, helps pay the workers that make the product what they deserve. Additionally, Loro Piana sources their materials sustainably. This means only getting their cashmere from local populations in the Alashan Regions of China, where the animals are selectively bred, raised in smaller herds and rationally sheared. This process is better for both the animals involved and the farmers, ultimately producing the highest quality cashmere that costs more than average because of the work that goes behind producing it.
That seems like quite a lot of work for a simple baseball cap, right? I’d be lying if I didn’t agree. But the difference between the Loro Piana baseball cap and one you can find at any fast fashion chain is that the Loro Piana one will last you your whole life and can be passed down to your kids. And that is what we call ‘quiet luxury.’ The notion that something can look so regular and plain, but actually be crafted to last a lifetime. You’re not paying for something you’ll wear once and throw out. You’re paying for something you will cherish forever and will last you a lifetime, while looking and feeling brand new year after year.
Quiet luxury is more than a trend. Sure, it has been popularized as of recent, but the concept has existed since luxury fashion has existed. It’s nothing new. The way people are treating it is new. As the mainstream discovered what they deemed ‘quiet luxury,’ they changed its meaning. To most people, quiet luxury is just something super expensive that looks like it should be cheap. And when something looks like it can be cheaper while looking the same, fast fashion brands tackle it and create their own version, introducing what they think is accessibility.
But overworking millions of underpaid people in large factories with horrible conditions to produce a similar shirt that emulates ‘quiet luxury’ is the opposite of what the term stands for. When products are produced at such a quick rate and in large quantities, they are inevitably lower quality and worn only to be part of a trend. But quiet luxury is not a trend. And it is more than just a plain, expensive shirt. Quiet Luxury is the fair pay that goes into making a long-lasting garment. It is the sustainability behind the brand. It is the ethical sourcing of materials and the hand-stitching that goes into a shirt. It is a piece that is meant to last more than a lifetime and be worn over and over again. It is not a simple fad that is going to go away anytime soon.
Maybe the trend will die out. Maybe brands like Shein will stop trying to emulate the aesthetic. And that is okay. Because quiet luxury is meant to be a lifestyle people take part in not for the hype or for others to know what they’re wearing, but rather for themselves and the knowledge that they are investing in their wardrobes.
Take the brand Jil Sander. Known for its minimalism and simple silhouettes, the label rose to popularity because of its dedication to purity and elegance. The clothes might not have the craziest cuts or colors, but they are made from the finest materials and typically match a large portion of any wardrobe. That is quiet luxury. Investing in a garment that you can wear with almost anything without worrying about replacing it the following year.
Maison Margiela puts out simple, timeless pieces each season with nothing to give away the brand name besides the four stitches on the back of garments. Their Replica sneakers are a staple in many wardrobes due to their elegant, minimal design that tends to go with any type of outfit for work or pleasure.
Brands like these are a reminder of what quiet luxury really is. It is a commitment to a lifestyle of sustainability and high quality. A belief in investing in oneself and one’s wardrobe to not only own pieces that last through generations, but to ensure fair treatment of the workers that make your clothes. Quiet luxury has been around since luxury fashion has, and it most certainly is not a trend of wearing things that look boring but make you feel expensive.
Text by Yusra Shah