Fashion, not unlike the investing world, loves to take an old theme, tweak it, and then relaunch it as the latest, hippest “Must Have” trend du jour. And right now? Looking ‘Poor’ is the new hot thing among millionaires with money to burn…
Oh sure, most of the stuff they’re wearing could be bought for $5 at a decent second-hand store, but where’s the status in that? And besides, Grunge is SOOO 1990s. So, make way for the latest class of consumers: The Poorgeoisie…
When thousands of angry protesters stormed April’s G-20 summit in London, vandalizing the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland and decrying the unfairness of capitalism, they took up the angry chant “No more money!” This palpable populist rage is understandable—the gears of the global economy have ground to a halt; no one has any disposable income; at home, conspicuous consumption is an offense punishable by stoning, or at least a stern reprimand from Congress.
One problem, though: Those things aren’t entirely true. Despite the downturn, a moneyed class of people are still buying luxury goods—and they’re doing it by the mini Cooper–load. While Wall Street’s hedge-funders have become whipping boys, those who have mastered the art of inconspicuous consumption are living as large as ever. But they’re not easy to spot, resembling, as they do, Trotskyite grad students—a look that doesn’t come cheap: $300 Acne jeans, $175 hand-stitched guayabera shirt, $150 mussed haircut with beard trim (not too short, please). This brand of consumerism escapes condemnation—it’s okay to be a capitalist pig as long as you’re the sort who roots around in your organic garden for truffles.