Decoding the Fashion Style of the Hit Series Succession

Decoding the Fashion Style of the Hit Series Succession

The blockbuster series Succession premiered its fourth season in March this year, marking the end of the series. Not only praised for its technical aspects and acting performances, the show also made waves with its costumes and accessories. A notable example is the Burberry bag, which garnered widespread attention but also sparked mixed reactions when Tom Wambsgans reacted to it at an upscale birthday party.

Decoding the Fashion Style of the Hit Series Succession
Decoding the Fashion Style of the Hit Series Succession

Apart from that, there’s the line “What’s even in there, huh? Flat shoes for the subway?”—which indirectly became a successful advertisement both online and offline. According to 3DLook, a virtual fitting service company, Google searches for the “Burberry tote bag” surged by 310% after the episode aired. Meanwhile, this dialogue became so famous that it spawned numerous meme versions.

But beyond the superficial, there are deeper themes within the show to explore. For instance, Tom’s misunderstanding of the most iconic fashion symbols of luxury brands. Perhaps in the worldview of the characters in this series, a couple attending their first upscale party among the elite might think, “I’m attending a party of the wealthy, so I must carry the most luxurious bag in my closet.”

Jake Woolf, an editor at GQ (Global Creativity Awards) responsible for analyzing the fashion taste of the Succession series since the second season, once said, “Clearly, Tom is referring to the size of the object, but the iconic Burberry plaid pattern is the brand’s heritage. And this isn’t how Burberry advertises their products. They made the world pay more attention to the $10,000 bag without the logo on it.”

Indeed, the fashion in Succession is depicted perfectly and sometimes extremely realistically when compared to those belonging to the uber-rich class. The clothes exude “money” but without ostentation—a definition also known as “quiet luxury,” the understated luxury. Costume designer Michelle Matland curated outfits that suited the characters in the show, using items like Loro Piana cashmere coats and Tom Ford pieces. Furthermore, Matland used clothing to convey the relationships between the characters.

Ruth Etiesit Samuel, a culture reporter at HuffPost, stated: “The costumes speak volumes about their relationship with their father. As their father’s power grows within the Roy family, you’ll see their style gradually change.”

Fashion has become an unavoidable factor for the family members to express their deepest desires since the first season of Succession. And while there are deliberate moments (such as when Kendall wears Lanvin sneakers to impress company founders), the filmmaking team tries to avoid “overdone PR.” Samuel also added, “It’s opulence expressed quietly, much like what the wealthy don’t want to show off. They’re not interested in ostentatious luxury and especially not in flaunting their wealth. We see many very subtle items in the show, not just stopping at that, such as a T-shirt from the Margiela brand.”

In a crucial lunch scene among the Roy siblings in the final episode of the third season, Kendall wore a completely ordinary Margiela T-shirt worth $340. And perhaps the most expensive accessory in that scene was the $15,500 necklace designed by contemporary artist Rashid Johnson. The necklace itself featured a painting from Johnson’s famous “Anxious Men” series.

Samuel explained, “Whenever Kendall tries to break free from his father’s dependence, he tends to wear urban designs, with a strong African American vibe, like bomber jackets and a large necklace.”

Meanwhile, Kendall’s younger brother Roman’s fashion choices are more in line with his personality. Throughout all four seasons, he often opts for outfits that embody the image of a Silicon Valley guy rather than a mature man living and working in New York City—this is intentional as he believes it can help him secure the CEO position.

Samuel said, “He wants to appear calm and in control, but in reality, he cares a lot about his father’s perception.” Rarely seen in suits and even less so in ties, Roman is often seen in button-down shirts and comfortable trousers. Additionally, his clothing accessories look very simple: while in Italy during the third season, the sneakers Roman chose were a pair of Cole Haan tennis shoes worth $120—a much cheaper item compared to Kendall’s $335 Dries Van Noten boots or $890 Gucci sneakers.

Next, there’s Shiv, whose fashion sense deteriorates over time but the value of each outfit increases as she becomes more involved in the family business.

In the early episodes of the fourth season, Shiv demonstrated her abilities by signing a $10 billion contract in a $555 Max Mara silk blouse and a Skims bodysuit. Samuel said, “For most of her life, Shiv could only do what her family asked, and fashion is the only aspect she can do as she pleases.”

In Season One, Roy’s only daughter didn’t show off a remarkable fashion sense with her wavy hair and oversized sweaters. However, by the second season, Shiv completely changed her style to a bouncy hairstyle and vests from Polo Ralph Lauren and Armani.

“She wants her presence to be known to everyone,” Samuel said, “and she thinks that having a more refined and masculine aesthetic than a bit will make her ‘queen’ in her life. Also, it seems to me that Shiv is the type of person who doesn’t want anyone to interfere with her decisions.”

This also means she doesn’t want anyone to control her image. Finally, Woolf concluded the four-season fashion with a few words: “The characters in this series have the ability to buy very high-end clothing from luxury brands, and they don’t need to fuss over each of their choices, just swipe their credit card to pay. But this series doesn’t convey that.”

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