Friday, June 29, 2007

Stealth Wealth

I work in a bank catering to the affluent. I also write a monthly finance column for a society magazine. And what I've noticed, apart from the common target market, is that those who are truly, utterly wealthy shun the spotlight.

Sure, they will go to events to mingle and dine. They will open their homes to have it featured - furniture, paintings and all. But they will never ever allow their photographs to be taken and their names printed in bold letters and published in a "society" column.

Think of it this way, if you are "richer than air" as Karl Lagerfeld would say, would you want to be a target for kidnapping? Of course not! Hence their need for privacy and discretion. To set the record straight, those you see in the papers? Mere poseurs palanggas!

It comes as no surprise that for the super wealthy, and the consumers of real luxury, "Flash is out, discretion is in". That's the message from Newsweek's Annual Report on Luxury (July 2-July 9, 2007 issue). They found that understated elegance is the trend in everything from fashion design to architecture.

Rather than screaming logos, " consumers are seeking discretion, special access, surprise, humor, even secrecy. They don't crave another pair of Jimmy Choos or a custom-made Bentley so much as the challenge of vying for an appointment at the Parisian jeweler JAR - maybe you'll get a slot that day, maybe not - or an invitation to a resort where they'll be entertained by rock stars and Nobel laureates."

According to, Newsweek Rome Special Correspondent Barbie Nadeau reports that luxury doesn't need a logo to prove its high-class credentials. The status lies in the way its goods are made. Such is the case of Bottega Veneta, the 41-year old brand-which prides itself on sporting no labels at all-recently named the world's most luxurious brand by New York-based Luxury Institute.

In keeping with the movement, the way the ultra rich shop has also changed. Paris Correspondent Dana Thomas reports that high-end couture's elite clientele are no longer heading to the ateliers of top designers for fittings. Dressmakers from couture houses now travel to their clients' homes (and often in their clients' private jets!-MFO). And while traditional fashion capitals such as Paris, New York and Milan retain their importance, a new group of second-tier shopping cities are making a name for themselves. Special Correspondent Ginanne Brownell reports that cities such as Antwerp, Chicago, Istanbul and Shanghai are now challenging the supremacy of the fashion industry's major cities.

So how do you pick out the truly rich from the pseudo rich? Simple, as prnewswire writes, "The Wealthy Among The Wealthy Are Distinguishing Themselves By Not Standing Out".

Bottomline? Its not about the bling blings dahling!

Newsweek International Cover "Stealth Wealth" out in newstands June 25, 2007.


raissa said...

This is true! I think in fact Oprah featured it one time that the real rich people look like regular people and discussion of their wealth is a no-no even amongst themselves. Its just not proper to brag about it. Its really easy to detect the real with the posers. Its not the bling blings indeed, style and good taste have no monetary value LOL

shopgirlmanila said...

Thank you NEWSWEEK for this article! I cannot agree with them more...Some people forego style and individuality to acquire products that are easily identified through their screaming logos. I don’t understand why ladies save all that money just to look like everyone else.

Jillsabs said...

i did wonder why the same people over and over again were being featured in tatler while the sys and the tans were hardly ever seen.

now i know why :p

but those people in tatler are sooo fake looking na it's scary

LegallyChef said...

oh vivien tan was a cover girl of Tatler (daughter of Lucio and head of Thames)

but it's true. real money is quiet money.

Anonymous said...

hahah! i got the same copy of Newsweek and I couldn't agree more! :D

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