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2 Apr

Dissecting the Billionaire Fashion in ‘Succession’

For the last five years HBO’s “Succession” has resonated with fans for its witty dialogue, dysfunctional family relationships and finely curated wardrobe that has helped popularize a distinct segment trend inside minimalist fashion. And along the best way it’s fueled demand for a lot of those understated products.

The hit TV show, which is airing latest episodes of its final season on Sundays, has develop into considered one of the prime examples of the “stealth wealth” fashion phenomenon, one which Fashion Institute of Technology professor Cathleen Sheehan explained has been around long before “Succession” debuted. 

“It’s things which can be understated and polished,” Sheehan said. “They’re not saying, ‘have a look at me,’ however it’s more like, ‘look somewhat closer with the intention to really see what’s happening.’ You might have to review it. It’s like while you’re sitting in a waiting room or on an airplane and you end up studying someone and searching closer at their sweater or shoes. It’s the care and the materials, and for those who’re in the style business, you would possibly recognize a few of the pieces.” 

Sheehan explained “stealth wealth” might be seen as an extension of previous minimalist fashion trends like ‘90s minimalism or the normcore of the 2010s. But “stealth wealth” is exclusive in its emphasis on quality and discretion. 

This has been seen on lots of the characters in “Succession,” which focuses on the dysfunctional relationships amongst patriarch Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox), who helms the international media conglomerate Waystar Royco, and his children, who’re fighting for leadership of the corporate. 

For the last three seasons, fans have come to expect the characters to be wearing nondescript clothing, resembling blank baseball caps, cashmere sweaters and neutral-colored suits that rarely jump off the screen. For superfans of the show, the logo-less clothing has develop into an Easter egg-style game of determining the brand behind the styles, that are typically luxury brands like Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, Tom Ford, Paul Stuart, Ralph Lauren and others.

A still from “Succession” season 4.

Courtesy of HBO

“We did our research of the Rupert Murdochs, Sumner Redstones and Jeff Bezos of the world,” said Jonathan Schwartz, the assistant costume designer on “Succession.” “We don’t follow necessarily what they’re wearing. We follow who the character is and where they’d shop. Whereas Roman may be shopping more downtown, Tom could be shopping on Madison Avenue. It matches into this overall theme of billionaires because they’re definitely going to those high-priced stores, however it’s really the character that dictates the kinds of clothing they’d wear.” 

Or the items that wannabe billionaires wish to buy. There have been quite a few articles over the past five years of how “Succession” has helped fuel demand for certain luxury items — from Loro Piana’s baseball cap to its white-soled shoes. Each can cost within the a whole lot of dollars but often have sold out at retail after a “Succession” character wears them.

Over the 4 seasons, Schwartz noted that Kendall Roy (played by Jeremy Strong) has had the most important style evolution, which was meant to reflect the changes in his character. The character began off the show in corporate-style suits and has since evolved to more casual, yet pricey leather and suede jackets and streetwear sneakers. The character’s casual style still plays into “stealth wealth” as his clothing is often from Loro Piana, Tom Ford or Gucci.

Schwartz stated that besides Kendall Roy, the show’s characters have had little evolution style-wise within the 4 seasons, which perhaps reflects a bigger message.

“The funny thing about this show is even within the characters, no one changes,” he said. “In writing, persons are purported to change and transform. That’s the funny thing about ‘Succession.’ They begin off as bastards and so they find yourself unchanged from that.” 

Schwartz thinks the show’s costumes have worked due to their authenticity to the characters and the way they don’t distract from the dialogue.

The show’s season 4 premiere episode seemingly addressed the characters’ inclination to “stealth wealth” when Nicholas Braun’s character (who’s known as cousin Greg) brings a date to Logan Roy’s birthday celebration who accessorizes her look with what character Tom Wambsgans described as a “ludicrously capacious bag.” The bag in query was the Burberry Title Vintage Check Tote Bag, which despite a high price tag of $2,890, doesn’t slot in with the logo-free aesthetic outstanding in “stealth wealth.”

It’s one other example of viewers’ eagerness to “find the label.” After the episode aired, Google searches for the Burberry bag skyrocketed.

Each Schwartz and Sheehan imagine the show’s costumes and “stealth wealth” have appealed to the masses for his or her aspirational quality. Sheehan also noted “stealth wealth” might be seen as an extension of the pandemic-influenced fashion trend of paring down wardrobes and investing in higher quality pieces.

“It’s aspirational because they’re wearing Loro Piana sweaters that almost all of us won’t have the option to afford,” she said. “It’s a classic black turtleneck, but you’ve to review it and see why it looks good, what it’s about it, so it’s aspirational. There’s something interesting about that that it appears like a shift from ‘have a look at me’ fashion to look somewhat closer.” 

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