Tell me you’ve lost touch with reality without telling me you’ve lost touch with reality

Back in April’s USP Loves #5, I wrote about how I thought the Quiet Luxury/Stealth Wealth trend was the new status symbol/label for those who were desperate to appear well-off, while ignoring the fact that most of the uber-rich don’t have actual style, just lots of money.

As is the way with fashion, as the Zeitgeist shifts, so do our opinions and while I’m not doing a 360 on my thoughts at paying £250 for a white vest, the move towards pared-down, minimal looks – without the insane price tags required to prove ones wealth – is becoming more and more appealing . The new Authentic Quiet Style  (as we have named it) isn’t about expensive classic items and quality basics – although it can be – it’s about new proportions, considered details and understated style, put together in a way that resonates with one’s own particular aesthetic.

Style is the key word here. Let’s not get into what we consider to be style – or maybe we should. For us, Authentic Quiet Style (AQS) draws on a variety of sources – vintage, second-hand, high street, designer, etc. etc. – to create a unique personal identity. And here’s the thing – a new look that doesn’t have an obvious identity can be tricky to put together for a high street retailer and the regular consumer. Boho, Coastal Grandma, Barbiecore, Cottagecore  etc. are all obvious ‘trends’ with colour palettes, prints, shapes and details. Meanwhile, social media is awash with ‘ways to wear’ and how to ‘get the look‘. But it’s rare to find a brand or retailer that encourages consumers to create their own style.

Carrie Bradshaw (And Just Like That) wears Moncler in a New York snowstorm

Becoming a #fan is the retail holy grail and increasingly, luxury brands are the ones who manage to convince consumers that designer labels = status = style. But does it really?

A good example of wealth=style is Season 2 And Just Like That, that the The New York Times thinks has an obsession with logos.

“If watching ‘Succession’ was like engaging in a detective game to suss out what character was wearing what brand, ‘And Just Like That …’ is like attending brandapalooza: the double C’s and F’s and G’s practically whacking you on the head with their presence.”

Lisa Todd Wexley casually crosses the street wearing Valentino to get to The Met Ball

AJLT costume designers Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago‘s desire to be fashion-forward appears to have moved into the realms of designer fantasy. Authentic Quiet Style this is not – and why would it be – our obsession with Carrie & Co has been as much about the clothes, as the story lines and that’s just how we like it. Who needs a plot when you’ve got Carrie Bradshaw wearing stilettos and a £4 tutu sourced from a showroom bin. But that was back in the day when Patricia Field managed to make SATC outfits quirky and original, mixing designer brands with vintage, as well as streetwear, in a way that broke rules and created new ones. SATC was about unique style, while sadly AJLT style is about money and worshipping at the alter of big brands.

Lisa Todd Wexley dropping her children off for camp in Louis Vuitton

Is social media to blame for this move towards status over style, is it turning us into Kardashian wannabes, afraid to make any controversial sartorial statements and brainwashed by brands (and Trend Forecasters!) into thinking we must buy into the ‘latest look’ to be relevant? Even TikTok, which has the power to create niche trends and amplify them to become mainstream, is seeing original thinkers and bedroom creators being duped by big brands, keen to get on board with whatever #core is going viral.

Yes, yes I know, we are part of the problem – that goes without saying. But believe me, we encourage our clients to develop their own handwriting as much as we can without becoming annoying and most try. But sadly for high street retailers, sometimes the curse of the best seller or the desire not to ‘miss out’ on a trend can get in the way of innovation. Designer or high street, cheap or uber expensive, encouraging consumers to dress head-to-toe in one look or label doesn’t encourage creative thinking or unique style, but it does make money.

Some brands are brilliant at creating their own style tribes, consequently generating a sense of community and genuine #fans, centred around a shared aesthetic. Collagerie is one of my favourites, as is The Row (if only I could afford it) – see also Toast, Margaret Howell, The Frankie Shop and COS. And… I have started planning a low key bank robbery to be able to afford the new Pheobe Philo collection, which is sure to be the ultimate definition of Authentic Quiet Style.

The Sartorialist on the streets of Milan and The Frankie Shop style

Anyway, back to Authentic Quiet Style and why we like it. Take a look at the OG street style photographer Scott Schuman’s iconic @thesartorialist Instagram feed to see real people with their own style, going about their everyday business. Ok they are mostly in Italy, where style is a birthright, but this effortless Quiet Authentic Style is neither basic or ordinary and sums-up what it is to be unique at any age. Neither clichéd,  performative, obsessed with designer labels, price tag or the latest look, this is genuine style and we are here for it.