- Quiet Luxury
Elevating Brand Value with Quiet Luxury
What Is Quiet Luxury?
Quiet luxury is tricky to define but easy to recognize: high-quality materials, fine craftsmanship, and timeless, classic design. What sets quiet luxury apart from more typical, ostentatious expressions of luxury is its subtlety: Rather than brands and labels, quiet luxury’s allure is based around quality, authenticity, and longevity.
“In 2023, the world decided that flashy logos were gauche,” explains Fast Company magazine. “Instead, consumers gravitated toward products that were high in quality and well made, but that were much more subtle in their marketing and visuals.”
Branding on quiet luxury items may thus be virtually nonexistent. The luxury is instead conveyed through simplicity, longevity, even minimalism.
This creates several challenges for business owners and marketers: How do you promote a brand quietly? How do you convey a sense of understated luxury without under-understating it? How can you identify, attract, and engage the right audience for your quiet luxury brand?
Understanding Quiet Luxury
Effective execution of a quiet luxury brand strategy requires an understanding of how quiet luxury works, and how to create it. Here are some quiet luxury principles:
The simplest and most obvious definition of quiet luxury — across every industry where the trend has taken hold — is the absence of logos, brand names, and other ostentatious displays of brand identity. Quiet luxury brands replace large logos and other overt branding marks with “subtle touches that speak of quality without screaming for attention,” writes 48 West agency, a strategy and insights firm.
“At the heart of quiet luxury is a focus on the needs of the customer,” says Shilpa Shah, cofounder of the minimalist fashion label Cuyana.
For Cuyana, a fashion label, that means finding out not only what kinds of products their customers want, but also the lifestyles of their customers and how they’ll use those products, then incorporating those findings into the design process. “Flashy logos transform customers into walking billboards for a brand, but quiet luxury brands tend to be focused on the needs of the customers,” Shah said.
Highest-Quality Craftsmanship and Materials
Quiet luxury “offers an exclusive experience dictated not by flashy logos or loud displays but by extraordinary craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the highest quality materials,” according to a recent article by Prachi Tulsyan.
This means that marketing of quiet luxury products must “highlight the meticulous attention to detail and superior craftsmanship of creating each product,” writes Tulsyan. “By emphasizing quality over quantity, you cultivate a sense of exclusivity and elevate the perceived value of your offerings.”
Minimalist design is an important part of this aesthetic. Instead of showcasing your brand’s name or logo, “embrace clean lines, muted colors, and simplistic aesthetics to reflect the quiet elegance your brand represents,” Tulsyan advises.
Authenticity and Sustainability
One of the core values of quiet luxury, authenticity refers to both a lack of pretension and a compelling backstory that ties the form and function of the product back to its purpose, and to the customer’s needs. Just as quiet luxury isn’t about huge logos, it’s also not about the hard sell. Quiet luxury brands offer opportunities for genuine engagement, with an emphasis on educating consumers about the product’s purpose, materials, and origins.
Now that climate change and preservation of natural resources have grown in recognition, consumers want to know that the products they’re buying were created using sustainable resources and are built to last a long time. Those themes resonate strongly with modern consumers looking to make investments in quality rather than chase a trend.
“The problem with trends is that they are designed to become obsolete, which means customers will toss them after a short time,” Shah explains. “Quiet luxury, on the other hand, is designed to be relevant for as long as possible. That’s why one of the ultimate symbols of quiet luxury is the beat up Hermès’s Birkin bag that has been passed from parent to child.”
“Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of their choices, leading them to prioritize products that are responsibly sourced and produced,” according to a recent Medium article. For these reasons, a brand’s sincere, demonstrable commitment to sustainability is a major selling point. Quiet luxury is about doing good by customers and the planet, not about demonstrating superiority or wealth.
Promoting a Quiet Luxury Brand
Experiential marketing, with its emphasis on flashy displays and high-touch encounters, might not seem like a natural fit for quiet luxury brands, but in fact the opposite is true. Because experiential marketing encourages authentic, firsthand interactions with prospective customers, it’s a great way to deliver luxury messages. Experiential marketing such as pop-ups, brand activations, and other events gives your customers access to the information they need to believe in your brand. “The challenge lies in communicating the brand’s inherent value without overt showiness,” explains an article by Thailand-based Primal, a digital marketing agency. Here are some success tips for doing just that.
Make sure quiet luxury is a good fit for your brand
The first step in creating a quiet luxury campaign or event is to ask whether your brand can authentically align with the core values of quiet luxury: “understated elegance, unparalleled craftsmanship, subtle sophistication, and authentic experiences.”
Remember that quiet luxury isn’t only about price. A brand doesn’t need to be ultra-exclusive to fall under the quiet luxury umbrella. Fashion brands like Banana Republic, Everlane, Zara, Uniqlo, and Shein (which recently featured a quiet luxury landing page on its website) offer “affordable luxury.” Their clothes are nearly devoid of branding or logos, high quality for their price point, and designed to serve as long-lasting wardrobe essentials — all hallmarks of quiet luxury brands.
Understanding quiet luxury as a mindset, rather than a trend, can help brands sort out whether it’s a viable option for them.
“In order to take advantage of its presence, brands will have to see whether or not they can authentically align themselves with the tenets of the aesthetic – lowkey, in-the-know, and heritage,” says Culture Group strategist Aliya Gilmore, quoted in a recent article on Campaign.
Focus on craftsmanship
Contrary to popular belief, people who buy luxury goods aren’t just tossing money around because they can. Most millionaires grew up in middle-class families, so they pay attention to prices and they want to justify expensive purchases. “They want to connect the dots on why certain products or services cost what they do (like a luxury watch),” explains a recent article in Eventmarketer.com. “By explaining the history, the craftsmanship, the man hours, the materials, brands help them rationalize the purchase and shift their perspectives.”
The good news here is that with some consumer groups, particularly Gen X, once they’ve “fallen for” a brand, they’re loyal customers. That’s especially helpful to quiet luxury brands, which often rely on reputation and word-of-mouth to attract consumers.
Make sure your message references how your products are made and why they’re made that way, and incorporate that storytelling throughout your marketing efforts, because “A brand’s behind-the-scenes experts — the brewer, the foreman, the chef, the product designer—can help shift a perspective with a one-to-one conversation.”
Tell your story
Showing customers who makes your products, how they are designed and made, where materials are sourced, and the story behind your company builds trust in your brand — an essential element in connecting with consumers from Gen X through Gen Z.
One way to connect with consumers is by telling a story that communicates how your brand fits into the larger quiet luxury realm. “While the product’s quality is a given, the narrative around it becomes crucial, replete with authenticity and a compelling backstory,” Primal explains. Storytelling … can be a potent tool in the marketer’s arsenal.”
Remember that less is more
“The quiet luxury trend refers to a shift toward a more exclusive, intimate and personalized experience with less visible branding,” according to a recent Forbes article. “Exclusive,” “intimate” and “personalized” are themes to follow in planning an experiential campaign. Make your events more personal than impressive in terms of size and scale. Host “fewer, more intimate events,” suggests Eventmarketer.com.
“You need to do one thing extremely well, and that will be the magic or moment that people will take home with them,” says Thomas Serrano, co-founder of luxury events agency Exclamation Group.
Rather than a huge-scale event, create moments unique to your brand within a smaller event. Tell your brand’s story. Your goal should be to create “priceless” experiences for attendees. Make the overall experience memorable, “rather than spend money on branding elements or fabricated Instagrammable backdrops.”
Carefully craft events and activations
Think about the emotional impact you want the event to have — surprise, wonder, joy, nostalgia — and create the event around that. “You may design a shared or group experience or individual moments, or both, to evoke that emotion,” the Eventmarketer article continues. Create both active and passive moments such as one-on-one conversations with experts and sessions with larger-scale, sit-and-listen content like a speaker or performance.
Avoid shifts in energy level that might ruin the mood, like interrupting cocktail hour with speeches, or transitioning too quickly from session to session. Allow your guests to enjoy the experience at a natural, comfortable pace.
“It’s not an exact science, meaning that it’s not going to trigger the same emotion in everybody’s heart and soul, because we’re all different people, but at least there’s an intention and we know in advance what we’re trying to do,” Serrano says. “We can anticipate, modify because we’ve mapped it out.”
Choose the right collaborators
Influencers demonstrate quiet luxury cosmetics on TikTok; characters in popular series like Succession wear classic, quietly luxurious clothing and accessories. The popularity of quiet luxury owes a lot to these celebrities and other “tastemakers.”
“Influencers and celebrities often showcase their appreciation for quiet luxury, highlighting its timeless appeal and understated elegance,” according to a recent Medium article.
For these reasons, collaborating with social media influencers can indeed be an effective way to promote your quiet luxury brand — it can “broaden your reach and adds a layer of credibility to your quiet luxury positioning,” according to the Primal piece.
But for this approach to work, partners need to share your brand’s values. “Work with authentic influencers,” the article continues. “Not just any high-following influencer, but those who genuinely resonate with the brand’s values. Their endorsement can be more genuine and influential.”
Promobile Marketing is a dynamic experiential marketing agency based in New York City. For over a decade, Promobile Marketing has collaborated with a range of brands—from budding startups to major CPG brands—on immersive marketing campaigns. Get in touch to discuss your next project.