This article titled “Dress like a tech bro in kaftan, sliders, gilet … and Jeff Bezos’s shorts” was written by Priya Elan, for The Observer on Saturday 2nd November 2019 12.05 UTC
Jeff Bezos: famous founder of Amazon, baldest billionaire in the world … and now an unlikely men’s style icon.
A pair of his swimming trunks have become one of the most searched for menswear items, according to website Lyst in its quarterly report ranking fashion’s hottest brands and products. Their popularity – 4,000 searches and counting – may surprise some; the aquatic design by French luxury label Vilebrequin (featuring several lilac octopuses intertwined against a lighter background) is 1% “Ahoy Agenda’” and 99% “Dad, you’re embarrassing me”.
Bezos was pictured in the trunks aboard David Geffen’s yacht (supporting cast: supermodel and Taylor Swift’s ex-bff Karlie Kloss, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein) and strolling around Saint Tropez with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez (credits: So You Think You Can Dance, regular on People magazine’s Hot Bodies list).
“Bezos’s outlandish octopus shorts, ideal for cavorting on a superyacht, make a real statement,” Lyst’s Katy Lubin says. “The look has resonated with shoppers who, no doubt, aspire to Bezos’s bold choices in both swimwear and in business.”
Dressing like “one of the 1%” is part of the growing trend for luxury global traveller style. Featuring the likes of Bottega Veneta leather sliders, Loewe beach mats and a kaftan from Marrakshi Life, it’s a look straight out of a Bond villain’s Instagram story.
“The whole holiday, resort and travel area of menswear has been growing steadily,” says Fiona Firth, buying director at Mr Porter. She adds that, along with Vilebrequin, sales of luxury swimwear by Off-White and Orlebar Brown have soared.
“I think men now understand and appreciate a broader perspective on dressing in different climates and for different occasions – it’s not just about a pair of swimshorts,” says Damien Paul, head of menswear at Matchesfashion.com.
This focus on Bezos’s holiday clothes comes at an interesting point in the conversation around men’s workwear. Long rejected by Silicon Valley’s so-called tech bros, such as Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, the traditional office suit is showing signs of decline, with Marks & Spencer announcing that it is cutting back on its production, citing a 7% fall in sales. As Will Welch, editor-in-chief of GQ Style, announced in an editorial earlier this year: “Silicon Valley rejected the suit as a symbol of a whole global infrastructure that needed disrupting. The corporate world abandoned it too.”
In its place? A look that’s characterised by “stealth, low-key luxury utility pieces” says Lyst’s Lubin. The centrepiece of that is the gilet – or “tech vests” as they have come to be known. At the 36th Allen & Company Sun Valley conference earlier this year (the so called “billionaire summer camp” where mega-deals are made) media alphas such as Bezos, Lachlan Murdoch and Hank Crumpton all wore theirs.
They are the go-to look for the financial sector, parodied in more than one Instagram account and worn by characters on HBO shows Silicon Valley and Succession. Luxury brand Moncler even brought out a version knowingly named a “banker gilet”. “The gilets have transitioned from being just a practical garment to a fashion item too,” says Firth. “To meet customer demand we’ve nearly doubled the amount of styles available.”
Sadly, you’re probably going to be left wanting if you’re planning on nabbing a pair of Bezos’s Vilebrequin trunks for Christmas. They are largely sold out, but you can swipe a similar pair for a cool £185 … on Amazon.
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