June 10, 2024

Quiet Luxury, What is next?

“Quiet Luxury” is an overused term attributed to a fashion trend in recent seasons. This includes the related terms of “Everyday luxury”, “shy luxury”, “whispered luxury”, and “subheading luxury”.

This is an ostentatious response to the equally extravagant maximalism that has marked the catwalks from 2015 to the post-COVID period. We mention post-COVID because it was during this period that trends generally took a sharp turn. Starting in 2022/2023, the fashion industry began to “play” creative director roulette with big announcements (and prominent disclaimers), which, almost as if in a styling exercise, saw creative directors entering a fashion house, making their mark and leaving the brand in less than a year. This is because of the need for new material and a new stylistic imprint. How can these be related? How can a “new” stylistic approach be the answer to a global pandemic and the vicissitudes of luxury brands? Observing and analysing the process with a certain detachment while emaining a fan of the industry, one can see how the evolution directly correlates to the taste and stylistic approach of the exponents who present themselves as its spokesmen.

In a fragile time such as the lockdown, in a world irreparably shaken by news events, fashion reverts (rightly so) to talk about itself in moderation, sometimes with awe due to respect. Such an inherently “beautiful” phenomenon, in coming to terms with a morally and emotionally devastating context, is the manifestation of a desire to represent oneself as a unique individual within a broader social circumstance. Producing a wealth of opinions, those with still breath to speak, young voices, and the voices of the new insiders who had their careers frozen on the springboard of their path. Therefore, fashion looks became more pragmatic, concrete, and genuine. Authenticity is sought through comfort and normcore clothing (uni-sex clothing) that can converse with a vivid and young urban society. Fashion with basic t-shirts, luxury denim, hoodies, camel coats and loafers. This is the cool stereotype of the new generation, the uniform of the insiders, now social stars.

Sabato de Sarno’s SS24 Gucci collection was the start of quiet luxury for the Italian fashion house.

Gucci’s SS24 interpretation of a luxury denim look.

Catwalks, new collections, and fashion shows have always indicated trends, first permeating through influential members of society and then filtering to the commercial industry. Nowadays, it is possible to recognise the attitude of the insiders who attend fashion events, no longer in eccentric and unusual garb, but in outfits that are easier to interpret, as they decode the signs and symbols included within a fashion show to rework them into a more “simple” and concrete commercial version. The talents of social and showbiz, rather than the top models, have decided to take advantage of a more “accessible,” everyday, deliberately comfy and subdued fashion. Thus, supplanting the influencer(s) who, until less than a decade ago, showed themselves by creating hype and aspiration from the public through unattainable imagery, today they have transformed into the trend we can call authenticity and functionality. It is a trend recognised by the public and is more easily reinterpreted. The normcore, “quiet luxury”, thus imposed its stylistic mark in most luxury and/or emerging brands, becoming the status symbol for the world’s (and social) stars in their daily lives, also in events that were once only glamorous and glitzy.

Look 3 from Fendi’s FW24 Menswear collection, following the approach of “quiet luxury”.

Fendi FW24 Menswear, look 25 is held in subtle yet sophisticated colours and shapes.

“Quiet Luxury” is the quest for essentiality and authenticity, which places luxury brands on another level. To be able to communicate with a new, broader, younger, more aware, demanding and informed audience, it is not necessary to express unattainable dreams in fashion but rather to convey a dreamlike theme into a look that is more readable and decipherable, with reality and with what is worn in daily life. An aesthetic that allows it to be worn to attend a stylish event as it is to a simple work meeting.

Through the prêt-à-porter collections, we encountered the ultimate manifestation of this new approach to dressmaking, incorporated in Gucci’s Spring 2024, Sabato De Sarno’s first collection, a turning point for the Maison. This contrasts the composed and bourgeois looks of Burberry by Daniel Lee from last summer’s collection. Another example is the textured looks of Fendi’s Fall/Winter 2024 women’s collection, with leather and cashmere knitwear, which reveals the story of the Roman Maison via a sophisticated and unmatched taste. The luxury of today and the future does not require ostentation but rather quality and deep refinement in detail. Inescapable, however, is not to mention Bottega Veneta, a pinnacle brand with the essence of extreme luxury reworked in its most essential and impalpable archetype; it narrates in its collections the society of the present that is expressed through functional garments manufactured with extreme precision while referring to the cosmopolitan jet set everyday life that represents the new consumer public.

Fendi FW24, look 28.

Fendi’s FW24 look 24, palys with the textures of cashemere knit and leather.

So, will there ever be an end to “Quiet Luxury” and this ongoing need for essentiality for luxury products on the part of the end consumer? With certainty, luxury brands now understand the need for a dialogue in a more authentic scenario. Regardless of social class, customs, style and price ranges, fashion needs to adapt and provide products in line with ordinary life, products of extreme quality, which do not age stylistically and thus are an investment for life, to avoid waste, ensuring sustainability (a relevant topic for the fashion industry).

At the same time, however, there is a need for fantasy, with looks and imagery within the runway collections that still allow one to move from the ordinary to faraway and imaginary worlds, such as the scenarios once told by Alexander McQueen. So we are now at a crossroads: the need for reality to reach the end consumer directly and the importance of the unreal and unexpected to create attention and interest again. Where, until now, the stylistic imprint had conformed to market demands. The luxury brands have begun to assert themselves again; just think of Gucci’s new Cruise/ Resort 2025 collection or Balenciaga’s Fall/Winter 2024. Without a doubt, it will be interesting to see what the next fashion season will bring.

Gucci Cruise 2025, combined dreamy colours with flowy dresses combined with oversized jackets.

This Balenciaga FW24 collection plays with contrasts, shapes and materials, going in the opposite direction of “quiet luxury”.