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Culture October 26th, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Quiet Luxury for Men

Culture October 26th, 2023
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How To Incorporate Quiet Luxury Into Your Style

Based on the enormous popularity of shows like “Succession” and “White Lotus,” the term quiet luxury has entered the zeitgeist in a major way. But what exactly does it entail, and is it something you should consider incorporating into your own wardrobe?

The short answer is yes.

Quiet luxury has been around for as long as clothing has existed, and there are some key benefits to pieces that define the style: longevity, timelessness, quality, and an inherent versatility that will ultimately serve you well over the years. It’s the pinnacle of a luxury lifestyle and you should be thinking about ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

The quiet luxury style is defined by a few key elements: eschewing labels and gaudy designer iconography, the highest quality cloths and provenance, classic silhouettes, and soft palettes.

We’ll explore how the quiet luxury trend came to be (and why it has always existed), along with brands that exemplify the style and how you can best incorporate these pieces into your existing (or budding) wardrobe.

What Is Quiet Luxury?

Quiet luxury has been been all the rage recently for style editors of men’s magazines and even more mainstream publications like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The popularity of “Succession” was just a touchpoint in a trend gaining steam from influencers, along with some less-than-ideal class situations born out of the pandemic.

The popularity of “Succession” was a touchpoint in the quiet luxury trend.

As many articles discuss, many of the wealthiest among us have elected to be less ostentatious with their displays of wealth amidst understandable frustration from the vast majority of people facing hardship in the face of this generational upheaval. While we could discuss that topic at length, this article instead focuses on the benefits of this style and why even the most frugal amongst us can take something from this trend.

Quiet luxury is quite clearly defined as wardrobe pieces from premier labels utilizing the finest fabrics without adornment or flash. It is easily distinguished from gauche or loud luxury, which you will spot with a quick scroll of Conor McGregor’s or DJ Khaled’s Instagram feeds. You’ll find no giant chains, bedazzled logos, or (generally) bright colors. Instead what you’ll see is $500 cashmere ball caps, subtle drapes, and depth of texture. The antithesis of Jerry Maguire: the goal is to look casual and relaxed without shouting “show me the money!”

Paramount amongst the tenants of quiet luxury is the emphasis on construction and fabric. While you’re paying for the brand as you would with any luxury label, you’re paying just as much for the craftsmanship, longevity, and rare cloth.

Vicuña is one of the most expensive fabrics on the planet.

The perfect example of this is Vicuña, the extremely rare wool of the South American animal of the same name (a cousin of the alpaca), which is one of the most expensive fabrics on the planet. It’s also incredibly soft, prized for its ability to wear in, and controlled almost entirely in production and dissemination by the famed Italian brand Loro Piana.

Another key element of quiet luxury is scarcity—these are not the pieces of the season, but the pieces of all seasons. You generally won’t see your favorite athlete sporting a Brunello Cucinelli cable knit, but you will see the most sophisticated person you know throwing one in their unbranded calfskin weekender. Everything about quiet luxury is about being the absolute peak of sophistication with subtlety.

Benefits of Quiet Luxury

First amongst the benefits of quiet luxury is the knowledge that you are buying a piece meant to last forever. Trends come and go, labels are en vogue and then fade, and the cycle continually repeats itself.

Having something without branding adornment, without kitschy colorblocking or, gulp, a mirror finish, will ensure that you can rest easy at night knowing your dollars went towards something that lasts. There should also be a sense of joy that you are helping provide actual meaningful wages for real artisans, and not buying something marked up 5000x made in a sweatshop because some designer deigned to throw their name on the front.

Investment pieces will also allow you to build a better wardrobe, in my opinion. These are not statement pieces in the traditional sense, but flourish amongst layers and textures. This allows you to take some time to work through building out a better outfit and, by extension, a better wardrobe. Thinking about what slacks you’ll wear with your new double-breasted Stòffa jacket or The Row overcoat will help you think about pieces that last, instead of just throwing on jeans with a Gucci interlock tee.

Quiet luxury should be more than just heirloom-quality pieces for your wardrobe though, it can, and should, extend to many other facets of your life. Consider some of your hobbies (for me it’s cycling, cocktails, and coffee). The most interesting things to buy for me are not the name brand product emblazoned with logos, but the independent brand that is building or creating wares with the highest quality ingredients or materials.

If each time you go to make a purchase you think a little bit about buying better, higher-quality products from artisans versus the behemoth, you’re embracing the quiet luxury lifestyle.

Building a Quiet Luxury Wardrobe

For now, our main focus is your wardrobe. If you’re a long-time reader of He Spoke Style, you’re probably well on your way to building a quiet luxury wardrobe. Brian has never recommended things that fall into the loud luxury category, and as such, you’ve got the foundational thinking down.

When building a wardrobe, I tend to think about the pieces that will last the longest and are the most versatile. This usually means outerwear, suiting, and staple layers (like knits). Notice I didn’t mention footwear here. There are a couple of reasons for that, paramount among them being that timeless footwear isn’t inherently a quiet luxury idea. Hopefully you have a few shoes already in your closet that will match well with any of the inspiration you derive here.

So how do you go about selecting these pieces, and how do you know which brands are “quiet luxury?”

Photo by Alex Teuscher

The fact of the matter is that none of the brands we talk about here will have “quiet luxury” anywhere on their website. You’re going to have to read between the lines. Don’t worry though, there is nothing subtle about the way these brands showcase the quality and artisan nature of their production.

First and foremost, embedded in your selection process should be a deep understanding of how a manufacturer selects their fabrics (whether that is from a small family mill or a giant factory will make a difference) and then who makes their product and where. Let’s use Brunello Cucinelli as an example as they are one of the leaders of the quiet luxury movement.

While Brunello Cucinelli sources their fabrics from all over the world, they have a sophisticated community in Solomeo, Italy where all of the artisans live and work. The community has a school, a theater, and much more, all around the idea of building a better harmony of craft and community. You’ll note that their website, along with any media you’ll read about the brand, spends extensive time talking about the way the products are made just as much as what the products are.

Contrast this with say, a Supreme collection, and you’ll note the significant differences. And this is not saying anything against Supreme, it’s merely not a quiet luxury product.

If possible, it’s best to visit the showroom or store of a brand to speak with some of the representatives. Again, you’ll get an immediate feel for whether they are salespeople focused on getting a commission, or whether they’re a vested member of the brand. I’ll share two vastly different examples for you.

Stòffa Lookbook for Fall 2021

Stòffa Lookbook for Summer 2021

I’m a huge supporter of the brand Stòffa, a relatively young brand out of New York with deep roots in menswear and production throughout Italy. They are very much the embodiment of quiet luxury, with small-batch products being made at an incredibly high quality level. Anytime I wear my cashmere crewneck from them someone comments that it’s the nicest sweater they’ve seen, but it never feels out of place. It oozes quality, which, when you speak with the team at Stòffa, you know comes from the fact that their cashmere is hand knit by skilled artisans and is not chemically-treated at finish.

Many other brands that offer cashmere at a discount will use chemical treatments to give the cashmere a soft hand feel in store that quickly fades and pills. By contrast, because Stòffa’s cashmere is left in as natural a state as possible, it will actually get softer with wear (without falling apart) and you can machine wash it. Yes, you read that correctly.

Anyway, I’ve been to the Stòffa showroom and spent hours speaking with the team and owners of the brand. Everyone there is not only aligned in the way they present the story, but also believes in what they’re building.

Contrast that with a recent interaction that I had at a Gucci showroom (don’t ask me), where the staff was incredibly nice and attentive, but had very little knowledge of the provenance of any cloth or where many of the products were manufactured.

The Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Münich.

Quiet Luxury in Travel

As previously mentioned, quiet luxury is more than just fancy labels (or lack thereof), but a sense of establishment. It’s a confidence in the way you hold yourself, dress, communicate, and ultimately, it’s a structured and simplified way of how you want the tangible world to interact with you. This can also be expressed as you travel.

Beginning with your choice of luggage, to the places you stay and the things you eat, quiet luxury can and should be your friend. We’ll share some of our favorite quiet luxury brands, but to give a sneak peek here, leveraging high-quality leather goods from skilled artisans like Frank Clegg guarantees you the stylish minimalism that says, “this is not his/her first rodeo.”

Modern influencers have steered their followers towards Rimowa’s stylish luggage, and with good reason—it’s incredible. However, a slightly broken-in and trusty leather weekender is simply the best quiet luxury investment you can make in my opinion.

When you think of places to stay, consider less what location is going to have the best Instagram-able beach club or is the trendiest. Instead, prioritize things like relaxation, quality of linens, restaurant options, and a reputation for going the extra mile without flash.

The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado.

Element 47 at The Little Nell.

I’ll give you my favorite example in the US—The Little Nell in Aspen. Everything about the hotel is intentionally understated, but as a result, the experience is elevated in a way that you need to experience first hand. From fresh fruit in your room every day to a real fire in the cozy den next to a James Beard-awarded restaurant (Element 47, which for those interested, is the element Silver — Aspen was founded as a silver mining town), to allowing dogs, to the gallery in the lobby or the connected ASPENX experience (think Prada ski suits with Aspen branding). The Little Nell is perfect. It’s also steps away from one of my favorite restaurants, Clark’s of Aspen, so feel free to find me there.

This is how quiet luxury is done, and there are countless locations like it all over the world (honorable mentions to the Montages in Laguna and Deer Valley, the Ritz Carlton in Boston, and the Auberge Chileno Bay).

Incorporating Quiet Luxury into Lifestyle

Just as you bring quiet luxury into your travel, think about incorporating it into your home. This does not mean spending thousands of dollars on throws you’ll never use from Hermès. Instead, it means taking a calculated look at the small elements of your everyday life that “spark joy,” as the Marie Kondo saying goes, and thinking about investing in them. The key is to live well without excess.

Don’t fall for garish labels or hype, but instead do some online research and find the small artisan that is over-engineering that espresso grinder, or the person that hand knits throw pillows for your couch from wool sourced on their farm.

I find glassware to be a place where I tend to go really wild, in particular I love these glasses made by Simon Pearce in conjunction with Andrew Pearce (the son who does woodworking), or these incredible cortado glasses from NotNeutral.

Best Quiet Luxury Brands for Men

Here are a list of my favorite quiet luxury brands, in no particular order. I feel that these brands embody quality, exclusivity, and subtlety in a peerless way.

Stòffa

Stòffa is a small label founded in NYC by veterans of the menswear space. They source incredible cloth from all over and leverage the best artisans to craft something truly unique. The color palettes are very muted, the cuts and drapes are the true stars. Their MTO program is delightful and the team is incredible. Truly one of my favorite brands out there. They do not have a dedicated womenswear line, but many of their garments are gender-neutral.

Brunello and Federica Cucinelli with their daughters Camilla and Carolina, their sons-in-law Riccardo and Alessio, and their grandchildren Vittoria, Penelope and Brando. Courtesy of ¡HOLA!

Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli are one of the OG’s of quiet luxury, building something unique before it was marketable and Instagrammable. The namesake founder has created a village in Italy with a school, theater, homes for the employees, restaurants, and museums. It is singular in the apparel world in that Cucinelli is truly their lives 24/7. The quality and fabrics are unmatched and so are the prices. They make both mens and womens products.

Loro Piana

Loro Piana is the other OG brand on this list and is also an Italian brand. Known for their sourcing of unique and proprietary fabrics (see vicuña above), they’re also known for their white-soled shoes.

In a little bit of a hot take, I tend to find their footwear somewhat lacking in appearance, but you cannot fault the impeccable quality of the craftsmanship and materials. They make both men’s and women’s products.

The Row

I will confess that I do not own anything from The Row. I have seen the garments in person and they are spectacular. The product of the one and only Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, The Row has been quietly (see what I did there?) building a cult following for years. With the success of quiet luxury as an ideal over the last few years their popularity has exploded. They make everything from footwear to suiting, and I think their shoes and knits are some of the standouts.

Frank Clegg

Frank Clegg has been making leather goods for decades, and they’re simply some of the finest you’ll find in the world. Part of the now-disbanded Lotuff & Clegg (it should be noted that the #12 weekender from Lotuff is one of my favorite bags of all time), Frank Clegg has an extensive catalog of some of the best designs and products you’ll find. They’re made from the best leathers and all done here in the US. I think the large dopp kit is an absolute must for anyone that travels (I have one in forest green and it has aged beautifully).

The iconic Frank Clegg zip-top briefcase in chocolate shrunken grain leather with monogram.

Ghiaia Cashmere

Ghiaia Cashmere is a lot like Stòffa in that it’s a younger brand that is making waves by simply making an incredible product. They have a beautiful store in California that embodies their ethos of impeccable styling, cuts, and effortless cool. If you need a cable-knit sweater for the fall (and you do), this is the place to go.

Sunspel

Classic British basics elevated in the quiet luxury vein. That’s Sunspel in a nutshell. If you need boxers or undershirts this is the only label you need to know.

Sannino Napoli

Sannino Napoli is, yes, a Neapolitan family-owned company that is renowned for their leathers and wools has just launched their own in-house line. They’ve partnered with the fashion guru Josh Peskowitz to help launch the new collections, and the results are impeccable. They’ve prioritized modern utility with timeless designs in a palette that is really refreshing.

Bespoke Anything

With the rise of #menswear in late aughts, custom clothing became more than just a thing for the wealthiest amongst us. The rise of fast-MTO brands like Indochino and Suitsupply led to a glut of suits with accented button holes, vibrant liners, and bold patterns. These are not inherently bad, but they’re not quiet luxury.

That said, sometimes getting a charcoal suit from Michael Andrews Bespoke or here in the He Spoke Style Shop in a classic cut and drape is the most effortless way to embody quiet luxury. Do yourself a favor and follow the rule of taking something away when you go the route of designing a custom suit and build something that will last and look good in all situations.

Fully Embrace Quiet Luxury

Quiet luxury, despite the fanfare of late, is a relatively classic concept that will stand the test of time. By focusing less on the name on the label and more on the quality of craftsmanship and fabrics, you’ll build a long-lasting wardrobe that will immediately draw the discerning eye.

While the entry points for some products are steep (sometimes prohibitively so), by taking your time and evaluating heirloom pieces, you can start adding quiet luxury staples to your wardrobe in an impactful way.

Remember, this isn’t about buying the “it” item from this season. This is about looking for items that will add depth and complexity to your outfits. You don’t need to buy quiet luxury products on a drop date, for the most part they should be available if you know where to look.

Consider checking out some of the beautiful garments and brands shared here as a starting point, then reviewing your own wardrobe for gaps or places to upgrade. As always, if you can sell some of your old pieces to make room for something new—it’s all the better for the environment, your wallet, and consumerism.

Finally, consider some of the staples within the He Spoke Style Shop where everything has been designed to effortlessly fit a quiet luxury lifestyle.

Stylishly Yours,
Drew Chambers - He Spoke Style

Drew Chambers

Drew is 6’5″, and his difficult-to-fit frame immediately drew him to custom clothing and niche menswear brands. He is a co-founder of Armscye, a digital agency focused on paid digital advertising, content creation, and holistic marketing solutions for ecommerce brands. Prior to founding Armscye, Drew spent over a decade working in-house as a CMO for a national consulting firm and start-up technology platform, where he helped launch new products as well as built new market and channel expansion strategies. He’s a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont. Outside of advertising Drew enjoys cycling, skiing, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

Photography by Rob McIver

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