Are Retail Interiors Ready to Catch Up With “Quiet Luxury”?

Its 2023’s latest style buzzword and Vogue has crowned it the “trend of the year, – “quiet luxury” is EVERYWHERE. Searches for “quiet luxury,” “old money aesthetic,” and “stealth wealth” have skyrocketed, with a increase of up to 568% over the past year alone. Tiktok and Instagram feeds are showcasing quiet luxury outfit inspo, with full circle social media moments such as ‘old money’ hauls (from SHEIN.) Could quiet luxury retail interiors be next?

What exactly is ‘quiet luxury’?

In simple terms, it’s a resurgent fashion movement that places a strong emphasis on high-quality, minimalist pieces that possess timeless appeal. These items are often logoless or subtly branded, intended to project an air of exclusivity and sophistication. The mantra of “if you know, you know” reigns supreme, reflecting a cultural rejection of the flashy displays of wealth that dominated the Kardashian era.

According to The Journal of Marketing (2010), the concept of quiet luxury can be understood as a way for wealthy individuals to signal their status. Those low in the need for status prefer to associate with their own kind and are willing to pay a premium for discreet goods that “only they can recognize.” On the other hand, those high in the need for status use loud luxury goods to establish themselves as distinct from the less affluent. Basically, its a way of signalling a very specific set of values relating to HOW we want to spend our money.

Where did the trend come from?

Trends are often a reaction to what’s come immediately before. What is now rare in the trend cycle? Well, after the logomania of the late 2010’s and manic overconsumption that accompanied it, “quiet luxury” signals a change in actual values or desired values or consumers. It signifies a shift in consumer behavior towards investing in long-term, high-quality items – supporting the ethos of “buy less, buy better” commonly associated with sustainability.

Secondly, SUCCESION. The influence of virally popular TV series influence on fashion and trends cannot be understated – and HBO’s Succession seems to be doing for ‘quiet luxury’ what Euphoria did for Y2K fashion. Additionally, influential figures like Sofia Richie and her beautiful recent wedding in the South of France, plus Gwyneth Paltrow’s immaculate court outfits sported during her infamous ski accident trial have helped propel ‘quiet luxury’ to viral status.

What could it mean for retail design?

In the last couple of years, retail spaces (especially pop-ups), have focused on boldness, brightness, staggering production feats and being as visually impactful and immersive as possible. Even this year, the brands heralded as the definitive ‘quiet luxury’ blueprints pop-ups and retail spaces have been anything but. But could change be on the horizon with a rise of quiet luxury retail interiors?

Its possible the popularity of the quiet luxury when it comes to personal style and domestic interiors could precursor a shift towards more stripped-back, exclusive boutique setting. These spaces would be characterized by a subdued and less overtly branded aesthetic, designed to create a personalized and intimate atmosphere. Jacquemus showed a step in this direction, with their relatively refined (from the outside) summer Lake Como pop-up, particularly notable as the brand is known for their super bold and immersive concepts

Another factor of these spaces could focus on optimisation for word-of-mouth marketing and experiential encounters. They could feature workshops, masterclasses, and intimate dinners, allowing customers to connect with the brand on a deeper level. Personal shopping experiences tailored to individual tastes and preferences could elevate the retail experience to one that resonates with the ‘quiet luxury’ set of ideals. Furthermore, selecting beautiful, picturesque, or exclusive locations for these boutiques would enhance the brand’s prestige and allure as well as being a fundamental pillar of the curated ‘quiet luxury aesthetic’.

Some of this years luxury concepts have been anything but quiet. (image credit: Loubi’s on the Beach, Burberry: SKP-S, Tiffany & Co & Fairyhill)

Retail interiors for brands heralded as quiet luxury such as ‘The Row’ focus on quality furnishing, natural light and balanced palettes. (image credit: Architectural Digest)

Iimage credit: Dezeen)

The ‘Quiet Luxury’ trend could give birth to more exclusive, experiential brand and PR events optimised for word of mouth and video recommendations as well as a enhanced focus on location.

Quiet luxury has taken 2023’s social media feeds and fashion trends by storm, but certainly won’t be right for every brand. The trajectory of super engaging, immersive physical space concepts has been growing year on year and will certainly be sticking around a little while longer. however the coming year might be making a little more space for something a little more subtle.

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