By now, we’ve all been “quiet luxury this and that” to death. The conversation of quiet luxury boomed throughout the fashion world, taking over TikTok and Twitter, with commentators either embracing or scoffing at the concept of “quiet” luxury. The 2% who participate in quiet luxury are apparently wearing brands we haven’t even heard of (or can’t afford). The hit HBO show Succession is the most recent culprit of stirring the discourse. However, most people are totally over it, including me. I recently read a colleague’s take on quiet luxury being loud and couldn’t have agreed more. In the article, they talked about how what people wore in ancient times was a show of status of wealth. As people began making their own clothing that could easily mimic those of higher status, a strange shift occurred. Gone were the days of logos being flashed. Why, you may ask? Because the rich never wants to be seen as equal to the working class.
There soon was a shift from logos and storied fashion houses to more brands such as The Row. The Row, known for its impeccable quality, suddenly became an understated sign of wealth. Plain white t-shirts worn by the rich, in large quantities (if that makes you feel better), costing up to $500, if not more, somehow became the norm. This turned into people from all over wanting to emulate that regardless of race. The problem is, buying a beige set from Zara (or any fast fashion retailer) isn’t quiet luxury. Yes, it’s an aesthetic, but the core of quiet luxury is not to buy fast fashion pieces that give off chic vibes.
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The working class cannot keep up with those participating in quiet luxury. That is just the facts. And suppose you look back into the polarizing “clean girl aesthetic” and its problematic implications of denying Blackness of being clean. In that case, you can understand that quiet luxury is doing the same thing. In the luxury sphere, Blackness isn’t synonymous with “sleek and chic.” The TikTok creator above cites the visual shift in what’s deemed luxury by white people and how Dapper Dan changed that narrative for Black people and hip-hop. Gaudiness was no longer a sign of wealth but rather aspiration or even lesser than.
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Overall we must understand that quiet luxury is just classist at the end of the day. Wear what you want. If you still want to have that “clean girl-quiet luxury” aesthetic, then by all means, do what you want; just know and understand that no one is below you because of that. If you love wearing loud clothing with maximal jewelry and accessories, then keep doing you! Fashion is getting to a point where everything has to become a phenomenon and be dissected, but we must remember that it can be fun to wear and learn about clothes. Fashion is art, and often art reflects life. There is a shift into a recession right now, politically and financially. What happens to the working class’s buying power will be interesting to watch because, honestly, the working class calls the shots on what’s trendy or not. It’s all about who buys into it.