The Sun Valley Super-Rich Dress for Their Own Episode of ‘Succession’
At the “summer camp for billionaires,” we saw the real life versions of “Succession” archetypes decked out in their finest vests and chinos—with some notable, colorful exceptions.
It is Paris Fashion Week, where the ultra-rich and influential bravely bury themselves in layers of tulle and watch haute couture parade down runways. But nearly 5,000 miles away, an even richer group of people are dressing up at the Sun Valley Mogul Conference. And for people whose extreme wealth represents America’s moral stain, they sure could pick better clothes.
Let’s start with the obvious: there is a lot of Succession cosplay going on. It should not be surprising that a lot of power players are dressing like the fictional media scions in HBO’s hit show. The series’ costume design has been dissected at length; The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme called the characters’ “expensive but inconspicuous” outfits as “subtle codes of class and power.” Michelle Matland, the show’s costume designer, described the show’s main family, the Roys, as “anti bling.”
“Of course, they’re going to be buying expensive accessories and clothes, but they don’t need to posture. It may be a $2,000 pullover sweater but it doesn’t need to have a logo on it to represent where they’re coming from. They know who they are. They’re already established,” Matland told Town & Country.
And at the so-called “summer camp for billionaires,” we see the real life versions of Succession archetypes decked out in their finest—and most boring—vests and chinos.
Evan Spiegel, the 31-year-old Snapchat co-founder and CEO who possesses a Jared Kushner-esque rich kid boyishness, showed up looking predictably collegiate in a polo and jeans. The producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar also opted for navy blue tops and black pants with Adidas sneakers. Katzenberg threw on a Sun Valley Mogul Conference-branded fleece vest, which has been dubbed the “Midtown Uniform” by a popular Instagram page that documents the ubiquitous look of finance bros.
Despite numerous parodies of the style in shows like Billions and Silicon Valley, the Midtown Uniform look endures. Moguls still wear the decidedly dorky, overgrown frat-like style. They do it for the same reason the super-wealthy do anything: they just can. The simple branding communicates that the wearer is too busy to care about anything but a mindless outfit. Its the same reason why Steve Jobs (and then Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos) loved his black turtlenecks.
Despite rumors that he might skip the event due to his impending space trip, journalist David Gura noted that he saw “Jeff Bezos, strolling arm in arm with [girlfriend] Lauren Sanchez.” His jeans were rather ill-fitting for a man worth over $214 billion, but judging by his smile for photographers it did not look like he cared one bit.
Barry Diller, the chairman and senior executive of IAC (which owns The Daily Beast), showed up in a colorful black-and-white top with little red flowers. Mark Zuckerberg, fresh off of a Trump lawsuit, looked sun-kissed, probably due to the beyond-creepy video the Facebook founder posted showing off on a hydrofoil surfboard, waving an American flag and John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” played. (And after reading that sentence, I finally understand why all the billionaires want to blast off into space.)
He arrived in yellow leisure shorts, a blue hoodie, and Adidas slides, looking very much like a college kid on his way to the dorm’s communal showers. Just add a caddy full of Irish Spring.
Next to him was Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. According to a book excerpt published by The New York Times, the two leaders disagreed on how to handle Trump’s presidency, which irrevocably broke their relationship.
A Facebook spokesperson denied this reporting, and maybe Sandberg’s T-shirt did too. The white top came blazed with the words “Just Love” written in faux-handwriting script. A perfectly vague, agreeable-enough phrase that speaks the fluffy language of press releases and lacks any discernible statement other than Sandberg’s taste being very basic.
But look, there’s Stacey Bendet, the fashion designer behind Alice + Olivia, wearing a boho oversize skirt, a tube top, and throw blanket wrap. It’s an extremely anti-tech outfit, one that makes you wonder if her assistants booked the wrong flight and she actually thinks she’s at Coachella. Good luck to you and get home safely, Stacey Bendet.
The Sun Valley Mogul Conference continues into this weekend, and the clothes will continue to signal a quiet elitism—and a reminder that mind-boggling wealth does not always mean distinctive style.