In an era enveloped with credit cards, split payments, deals and mortgage loans with 0% interest and the ability to borrow up to 100% of the required loan, anyone can buy into a the lifestyle of their dreams. The bill for your shopping spree in Barney’s can be deferred into eternity.
The price for that Ferrari can be split up into nice, reasonable small sums distributed over many years to come. Watch deals are everyday food; does anyone still buy their Rolex at the store? Don’t even get me started on the U.S mortgage loans. We all know about them, don’t we Bernake?
During times when basically anyone can fake wealth and success by ownership, the abundance of it all becomes less attractive to the truly wealthy. Showing distinction and class used to be to fly down to the French Riviera, sporting your LV-weekend bag, sipping on a glass of expensive Champagne on the flight over.
Now there’s Ryan Air, Ebay and Pommery. The fakes and trade-offs are everywhere, making it even harder to separate the wheat from the chaff.
They’re so good, that even the bourgeoisie is throwing a jealous eye, swiftly reconsidering their own expenses. The fascination with luxury items has always been that very few people can afford them.
If you didn’t have the means in your account, you had to work until you did (or married someone who did). In the last 20 years or so, when chic items became available to everyone, the hype slowly began to decrease.
Fashionistas like me remember the Gucci-logo with passion and nostalgia. But the Italian fashion house would be the first to succumb to the middle-class’s urge for the desirable lifestyle. They became greedy, which led the brand to appear in questionable boutiques, outlets and on the bargain shelf.
I’m sorry Gordon: greed isn’t always good. I wouldn’t be caught dead in the beige or black monogram now. Louis Vuitton wisely only offers their pieces in selected stores, and never ever offers any discount on their own products. Still, they’re dangerously close to falling into the same mediocrity-pit filled with hungry bargain-lions. And from there, there’s no return.
Wealthy people who now wish to manifest their status and affluence are starting to look beyond the upscale fashion boutiques on avenue Montaigne, past the Rolex-store on 5th and swiftly throwing a disapproving eye on St Tropez. That romantic, intimate and classy place once known for royalties and Gatsby-types which is now overcrowded by opportunistic posers and curious rabble.
So where do the affluent look for new ways to spend and flaunt their money? By investigating the demographics of the 1% we can find the answer in a very particular pattern. Contrary to popular belief, truly rich people or just successful entrepreneurs don’t work once their fortune is made.
Unlike the 9-5 office rat who works until his retirement, entrepreneurs either have other people working for them or technology that pumps in money without requiring any human interference. By being able to put time on himself, the successful entrepreneur now has an alternative way of distinguishing his success.
He has a flawless skin as he has time for treatments and can afford expensive beauty products. He is able to live a calm and serene life and doesn’t need to stress, which helps him avoid processed food and cigarettes.
He is in good shape, as he can afford a personal trainer at the gym where he spends several hours a day. As he returns home, it is to a healthy meal prepared by a chef.
He has a constant tan and sun bleached hair from California, Sardinia or St Barths as he has both time and money to travel. He is energetic as he gets the sleep he needs, works on the projects he loves and has a hot girlfriend by his side.
He is intelligent and funny, using his relaxation opportunities to delve into books and newspapers. His aura and physical presence radiate success. This makes him stand out permanently.
Like you probably understood already, the successful entrepreneur is easy to separate from the office rat. The guy stuck in his cube all day has grey skin from the cigarettes he allows himself at his 5-minute coffee-break.
His hair is wispy from malnutrition and lack of time to go to the hairdresser. He has a belly and is pale as a ghost, as he doesn’t have the energy or money to go to the gym or afford a real vacation. He has dark, puffy eyes and is blatantly apathetic throughout the day as he never gets enough sleep.
He has a bitter outlook of life, primarily influenced by his monotonous job that he hates. The only reason he endures is because it allows him to save up during a couple of months, in order to go to St Tropez and spray Champagne on prostitutes.
But that event doesn’t change his social standing for more than 10 minutes. He’s only standing out temporarily. It’ll all be the same once he returns home to his fat, nagging girlfriend.
Speaking of fat, it is interesting to consider the fact that during the 17th century, being fat was a sign of wealth; as it proved you were able to afford and consume more food than was necessary. Looking at the painting of “Venus” by Rubens, his portrayal of the goddess of beauty is strikingly similar Queen Latifah.
Now, with fast-food chains and an increasing price in vegetables and “health food”, there is yet another reason why it’s only the privileged that can afford to be thin and toned. The 99% is forced to queue up at Mickey D's to eat.
Obesity is also (rightfully or not) associated with other characteristics such as lack of self-discipline, low intelligence and ugliness. All these elements point in the direction of attributes that represent a class further down on the social hierarchy.
Word to the wise, don’t fake it – you’ll never make it. Stay Elite. Genuinely Elite.
Anna Madsen | Elite.