How A Television Show Inspired A Generation Of Cashmere
The two words on the lips of many fashion-conscious people are “stealth wealth”, and this fashion trend would not exist without luxurious understated cashmere clothing and a television show that brought it to a mainstream audience.
However, whilst fans of the television show have become so enamoured with Shiv Roy’s wardrobe filled with cashmere turtlenecks that an entire fashion trend has launched as a result, this is only the latest chapter of a long story surrounding cashmere and the rich and powerful.
What Is Stealth Wealth?
Whilst the term stealth wealth is relatively recent, generally being coined around the time of the 2018 launch of the highly popular HBO television show Succession, the concept predates the earliest known mentions of cashmere.
In Ancient Greece there was already a differentiation between people who came from families of inherited wealth and the so-called new rich. Eventually, the terms “vieux riche” (old rich) and “nouveau riche” would stick for these concepts.
The basic idea is that people who became rich have a different attitude to their wealth and status than people who have known it their entire lives, the former is typically stereotyped as somewhat ostentatious and more willing to show off their success.
The idea of stealth wealth is to therefore dress as if you come from old money, making understated fashion choices that are recognisable to other wealthy people as being signs of subtly displayed wealth.
The use of cashmere is a good example of this; it is an exceptionally comfortable but aesthetically relatively understated fabric, but people who have similarly luxurious tastes will know its worth and value.
Succession, Turtlenecks And Baseball Caps
This leads to the HBO TV show Succession, which brought a lot of the conventions of stealth wealth fashion to a much wider audience, particularly when it comes to two of its biggest statement pieces, both of which are made out of cashmere.
Succession is the story of Logan Roy, owner of a global media conglomerate inspired somewhat by Rupert Murdoch, and his family that are currently employed by the company but are set to take control of their father’s empire once he succumbs to failing health.
The fashion choices each family member makes are logo-less, made-to-measure, very expensive and often say something about their particular personality or sensibilities.
Arguably the most famous individual item is the inherently contradictory cashmere baseball cap, which spiked in popularity as a direct result of the show.
A baseball cap is a practical item of clothing that in the show represents both a shield from the outside world and a knowing nod to other exceptionally wealthy individuals the Roy family come into contact with.
Beyond this, Logan's only daughter Shiv Roy became a fashion inspiration as an example of power dressing, changing her hairstyle and dress sense from muted pastels to cashmere turtleneck sweaters paired with tailored high-waisted trousers to symbolise her increasing desire for power.
Shiv became the breakout character in the fashion world, and her understated yet luxurious wardrobe has shaped many collections throughout the 2020s so far.