If there’s a fashion buzzword that has broken the record for having TikTokers in a chokehold, it’s the phrase “quiet luxury.”
But unlike other recent trends (think balletcore, Mermaidcore, Romcomcore), this particular fashion “experience” is not so straightforward or identifiable.
“Quiet luxury” – a fashion experience/mood more than a trend – is annoyingly vague: It’s Bottega Veneta, Loro Piana, The Row, or Brunello Cucinelli. It’s more laid-back than your regular minimalistic fashion but still more refined than normcore.
It’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s courtroom Proenza Schouler courtroom outfits, Greg’s date’s ludicrously capacious Burberry tote bag in the new season of Succession, and Sophia Richie’s “new rich wife” aesthetic.
In short, it’s “#OldMoneyAesthetic,” “stealth wealth,” “coded luxury,” and discretion all rolled into one.
So, why has it received so much backlash? Why are people boycotting the “quiet luxury” aesthetic?
Why The Black Community And Fashion Experts Have Come Out Against The “Quiet Luxury” Trend
While the TikTok kids have been romanticizing this (nothing new here – Bill Gates and everyone else has rocked this aesthetic for ages), many people, especially the Black Community and a slew of fashion experts, think the whole “silent luxury” aesthetic is givin’ racist, classist, and elitist undertones.
According to most, quiet luxury entrenches existing economic inequalities and goes against the native cultural expressions of Black, Latino, and other indigenous communities, which are not the white elite.
Jonathan Square, an assistant professor at Parsons School of Design, says the issue with quiet luxury lies in the rapid prioritization of “coded luxury” over maximalist styles, which often consist of aesthetics rooted in the Black community.
In an interview with Refinery29, the professor said:
There would be absolutely nothing wrong with minimalism, but I think it becomes problematic when you attach superiority. Now, people say outright that they’re going for an “old money aesthetic, which is clearly classist.
For Laura Beltrán-Rubio, Ph.D., a fashion expert deeply rooted in her Latino roots, quiet luxury negates the richness in the stylistic expression of many indigenous cultures, including Black Americans, Latin Americans, and Latinx groups.
In an Instagram post, the fashion research expert said:
…while it may seem simple and even innocent, quiet luxury actually upholds many of the elite, white (washed) standards that have been imposed around the world and remain mostly unquestioned thanks to colonialism.
As @fashioningtheself has pointed out, quiet luxury negates the richness in the stylistic expression of many cultures. In my own research, I’ve found this to be true among Latin American and Latinx groups, who’ve been criticized and even described as “inferior” to Europeans and North Americans because of their “excessive ostentation. Quiet luxury also contradicts many of the principles of luxury present in Indigenous worldviews and fashions even until today.
Brenda Weischer, a fashion editor at 032c magazine, told The Cut that she finds it surprising that people are still at this “cat and mouse” game – where a new generation has an “eat the rich” mentality.”
She questions why Gen Z is so fixated on emulating what she calls the “oppressor core” rather than challenging existing power structures.
If we want to change who is sitting in the C-suites, why are we looking to blend in with the CEO boomers” and “predominantly white men who are afraid of fashion due to their own internalized toxic masculinity?
The stylists of Succession are doing a very accurate job; however, how is it lost on the audience that these characters are absolute miserable losers?
It’s an especially backward trend for women who’ve worked harder for their careers. Why should they be humble about it? Why would they not want to outshine the main who’s been wearing the same Ralph Lauren shirt for the last two decades? Enough with quiet luxury, If we can’t attain it, why not embrace being loud?
Here are other opinions on the issue:
thinkin bout how “quiet luxury” and “old money” being thrown around in fashion &how it’s a racist clap back to all the cultural power &influence Black and brown people are gaining everywhere, y’all ain’t low.
The rich are “rebranding” cuz they don’t wanna be considered ghetto. https://t.co/L5ZAdLgRa3
— Jenni Mota (@jennifermotaval) April 26, 2023
They on the clock app hyping up quiet luxury and old money and I’m laughing because both of those are just racist white and white adjacent ppl who earned that wealth off of selling your ppl and exploiting their labor.
— Typos? why yes! (@QuayDaTruth) December 7, 2022
the succ Burberry scene annoys me bc it’s giving yts more ammo to do even more boring thinkpieces on quiet luxury/old money + it’s racist bc “loud” brands like Burberry are worn/appreciated by brown/black people & god forbid wealthy yts have to look at us wearing expensive prints
— hc ? ERAS TOUR 13TH GILLETTE SHOW (@mezcalispunk) March 28, 2023
@sincerelyoghosa0 Replying to @Christy We might as well wear what we tryly want rather than aspiring to a certain type of luxury because we’ll be judged anyway. It is interesting though that one of the reasons Dapper Dan developed logomania because he liked labels and thought people treat you better when you wore them! #blackgirlytiktok #blackgirltiktok2023 #blacktokkers #blacktiktok ♬ original sound – sincerelyoghosa
@yo.dr.adrienne #stitch with @aworkingwardrobe Girl. ? If y’all don’t cut it out! This conversation is SO tired and rooted in white supremacy at best. ? #quietluxury #hermes #citygirls #cardib #blackgirlsinluxury #elitist #blackwomentiktok #blacktok ♬ original sound – Dr. Adrienne
Others (fashion enthusiasts) think the new generation aka Gen Zs doesn’t know what they’re talking about when they say “quiet or coded luxury.”
@luxemamachronicle The current social media conversation about “quiet luxury” is rooted in racism. Wealth has been displayed via expensive and visually loud tangible things throughout history. Fashion is a preference and unique to an indivuals taste resgardless of “financial class”. #quietluxury #luxemamachronicles #luxuryfashiontiktok #quietluxuryfashion ♬ original sound – LuxeNaz
@astylefactor Yal actually have me sick and MAD!!!!! Quiet luxury was literally NEVER!!!!!!! That deep. #blacktiktok #blackgirlluxury #oldmoneyaesthetic #oldmoneyaesthetic #quietluxuryfashion #brunellocucinelli #quietluxurystyle ♬ original sound – Ashley
@astylefactor Replying to @Suzzanne Lacey part 2 of my rant!!!!!! #blackgirlluxury #quietluxuryfashion #quietluxury #brunellocucinelli #oldmoneyaesthetic #blacktiktok ♬ original sound – Ashley
You can also listen to Rachelle Hampton and Nadira Goffe dissect the trend and explain why it is built on a fundamental misunderstanding of fashion, classism, and racism here: