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What Is Stealth Wealth Fashion?

by Samara Morris

It seems these days you can't have a conversation about quiet luxury without mentioning the television series "Succession."

"Succession" is an American satirical black comedy-drama created by Jesse Armstrong. The family portrayed in the show is wealthy, and their attire deserves its own TV series, already boasting its very own Instagram profile, Succession Fashion. Those who have watched the show have a pretty general idea of the characters and the fact that their attire is heavily associated with their characters' mannerisms or financial condition.


We are introduced to brands that you would otherwise have never paid attention to due to their minimal logo or simple design, some of which include Paul Stuart, Altuzarra, Acne Studios, LUEQ, Reiss, and more. We can all agree that wealthy individuals do not like to flaunt their wealth; they do wear it, but they don't flaunt it. They understand the importance of going undetected so they can maneuver easily throughout the world without branding themselves as targets to be robbed or killed.


Some more reasons are:

  • Money fluctuates, and if no one knows you have it, then no one will know if you’ve lost it.

  • Money flows among the rich—they buy and sell within their circle.

  • They have nothing to prove to the people around them.


THE MIDDLE CLASS – STEALTH WEALTH

When we think of the middle class, which is the target demographic for luxury brands, it's safe to understand that they are comfortable with both heavy logos and quiet luxury. We see that the wealthy may stay home and wear a $2,689.00 wool turtleneck to garden on a breezy day because the rest of her closet consists of items worth far more than that. Whereas, the middle-class wife and mom may only consider wearing something of that price point to a nice dinner, gala, or work. Either way, both clients can afford it, but the value of the item is different depending on their social class.


Stealth wealth is all about financial privacy due to a fear of being exploited. High net worth individuals are usually a target for scams and other crimes, so maintaining a low profile can help to minimize risk and keep more money in their pockets as they do not have to invest in security detail. Some may wonder, “Well, what about families like The Kardashians?” A family like The Kardashians are rich due to their television show, not their businesses.


The Walton Family—the owners of Walmart—are wealthy due to the success of their business, Walmart. When we think of The Kardashians, their net worth is a combination of real estate, brand deals, social media posts, businesses, relationships, and of course, Hulu. However, the main slice comes from Hulu; without it, you will see many of them begin to downsize, and this is not because they are poor, but because it will be harder to sustain their lifestyle if they are not earning $100M every four months. Unlike other wealthy individuals, The Kardashians are motivated by fame and what comes along with it.


It's safe to say that every person is unique in their desires, but public perception plays a huge role! We see that last Christmas, their annual party was sponsored by Coca-Cola, and this year, Kylie Jenner single-handedly launched three new businesses. The Kardashians do not embody stealth wealth because their entire brand has been built on their excess consumerism and the flaunting of their lifestyle.


HOW THE RICH STAY RICH

Maybe you think that because you don’t see any logos on a plain tee Mark Zuckerberg is wearing that he bought it at Walmart for $12.98, well, the fact is that his shirt costs $400 and it’s no different than the shirt you would get from Walmart. So, why? Wealth equals status and status is something you buy. It’s no different than someone who earns $45,000 a year buying a car which costs $65,000, but they do it not because they can afford it, but because it shows status.


Lower-income families will gravitate towards the logos and highly decorated articles of clothing because that is all they have to show their “wealth”. If everyone lives in a low-income neighborhood and one person has on a Burberry pattern printed shirt that retails for $125, it’s considered status. But another person can be visiting and is wearing a LUEQ shirt that costs $240 but it is logoless and from a brand less known.

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But if the people around them were privy to this, it is not the person wearing the Burberry who would be respected and considered a person with wealth, it would be the next gentleman. The only thing differentiating these men is the fact that one now has a target on his back and is more susceptible to being robbed even though the other one is clearly better off financially.


Staying rich means laying low and keeping your assets from being a target of consumption—whether by the poor or the government. If poor people know you’re rich they can come together to ‘eat the rich’ as they say and if the government knows, they can find loopholes to bill you for taxes. When we get into the nuances of stealth wealth and how it’s done, you get to see the bigger picture, that it’s more than just fashion, it’s a lifestyle in which fashion is just one small component.

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Things like real estate and art are just two of the many ways that the rich stay rich, so while Hermes has convinced its customers—due to exemplary marketing—that buying one of their handbags is an investment, it is not. We can again look at the Kardashians for example and their online store, Kardashian Kloset where Kim is selling two of her Birkins, a Kelly 20 and a Mini Kelly totaling around $60,000. If these were such great investments then why haven’t they sold yet? Also, why are they being sold for the same price as a new one? Investments should make you money, not help you to break even or lose money.


Marketing to the middle and lower class are the only ways to guarantee a profit for these wealth giants meanwhile all of those profits go into new homes and shell companies. Stealth wealth is not about wanting to appear richer, it's about being richer and smart enough to remain discreet about it.

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