This week has seen the return of succession, and with it, the very lively Internet discourse that always accompanies the beloved television series. For the first episode of the fourth season, that chatter largely revolved around Tom Wambsgans’ takedown of a £2,000 Burberry tote, which he described as a “ludicrously capacious bag”.
The accessory – and the subsequent reaction to it – was, many believed, a shrewd commentary on the extreme wealth that surrounds the Roy family, and how normal, non-billionaire folk will never truly comprehend how to behave around them (or indeed, how to dress). Try as they might, those outside the super-wealthy fold will never really fit in.
For Bridget, Greg’s date – who carried the Burberry tote to Logan’s birthday party – the suggestion was that she had invested in what many would consider to be an extremely expensive handbag; one which – to anyone’s eye – was obviously from a designer label. She believed that this would impress the super-rich or at least enable her to fit in at one of their parties. Of course, as proven by Tom’s vicious takedown, it did the opposite. Choosing a style which shouts about wealth is the complete opposite of what the truly wealthy do. This is where the trend for quiet luxury stems – every character in succession dresses in toned-down, muted, capsule classics. The clothes they wear are eye-wateringly expensive, yes, but to the average person, their values are not obvious. It is a more understated way of dressing and, in their eyes, superior. They are so wealthy that they don’t need to shout about it; they have nothing to prove.
However, Tom’s dig at logomania, or what we might call ‘loud luxury’, actually had the opposite effect on many mere mortals watching the show. According to 3DLook, a virtual fitting room company, which chose to analyze the Google Trends data around search terms, Tom’s cutting remarks actually caused many to start searching for the very bag to buy themselves.
According to the company, Google searches for ‘Burberry tote bag’ rose by more than 310 per cent after the episode aired, while searches for ‘Burberry handbag’ and ‘Burberry tote’ were up 180 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. Even searches for ‘Burberry sale’ were up more than 38 per cent.
“Burberry’s tote bag might not meet the standards for succession‘s top 0.1 per cent, but luckily for the luxury fashion house, they don’t speak for the average consumer,” said Whitney Cathcart, co-founder and chief commercial officer of 3DLook. “While Tom was busy firing off insults, the rest of us were Googling where we could get our own.”
Of course, many of Tom’s observations about the bag (that Bridget needs such a sizeable tote so that she has space for “flat shoes for the subway” or “a lunch pail”) actually do apply to almost everybody else’s life. Most of us do need enormous totes to function on a day-to-day basis – and sales of designer tote bags have been rising for a few seasons, as we have upgraded our filmy canvas bags for something more substantial. In fact, for most of the population, a high-end Burberry tote bag would be an extremely welcome addition to their wardrobes.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but it does go to show the huge impact that showbiz can have on consumer trends,” Cathcart added. “Tom’s sharp tongue might have just earned Burberry some extra sales. After all, the majority of us do use the subway.”