This past week marked the 36th year of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, where “power players” and “media moguls” gather in Idaho to “move” and “shake.” The conference, which draws everyone from Jeff Bezos and Murdoch offspring to sports team honchos and elite TV newsmen, is popularly described as “billionaire summer camp.” The wigs, in other words, are truly big.
What happens at the Sun Valley conference? According to Variety: deals. “One participant noted that [the] mood of the conference has changed in the past five years or so with more of an emphasis on scheduling meetings in advance rather than the chance encounters and ‘what if’ conversations that sparked mega deals such as Disney’s 1996 acquisition of ABC and the doomed 2001 union of Time Warner and AOL,” the site reported last week. In other words, attendees used to wander around until they sort of bumped into someone (or something?) and then made some sort of huge financial agreement that probably had bizarre repercussions for our economy and contributed to the increasing homogeneity of culture, to say nothing of wealth inequality. Now they do that, but with slightly more rigorous scheduling.
But something else happens at Sun Valley: fashion! Sun Valley is not the place where billionaire trends are born, but it is certainly the place where billionaire trends come alive. Herewith, the five defining looks of Sun Valley this year.
Let’s begin with the most important measure of what’s hot in the billionaire universe: logos. To what brands are billionaires most loyal? For the most part, attendees were wearing Sun Valley’s 2019 merch, which included dad hats, pima cotton track jackets, and pima cotton striped polos. Many attendees were not above going full kit—we get it, you’re at billionaire summer camp! The jackets, at least, were a collab with the North Face.
But other logos were in the mix, in alphabetical order:
Spotify’s Barry McCarthy in GQ favorite Arcteryx!
On Snap’s Michael Lynton: the tranquilly named Cloudveil, which was one of the world’s best manufacturers of mountain-climbing apparel, but made a number of questionable biz decisions and fell into decline. “Today Cloudveil has all but vanished from the backcountry scene,” writes OutsideOnline.com--which is to say, this is a billionaire niche brand grail
On Tim Armstrong: DTX, his new digital media and advertising “disrupter”
On LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman’s track jacket: HAI, Stanford’s center for “Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence” (at least our future robot leaders will be ethically sourced)
On W. Porter Payne, Jr. of Centennial Holding Company’s vest: the Masters Golf Tournament (it’s like Supreme, but for dads!)
On Veronica Smiley Grazer’s hat: the mascot for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, one of Australia’s prized rugby teams, with a sponsorship from P&O Cruises, the world’s oldest cruise line
On Tom Brokaw’s hat: Yellowstone Angler, one of the area’s best fly-fishing stores. (Brokaw has a house in Livingston, Montana.)
On Palantir Technologies’ Alexander Karp: every other brand in existence
On the runway, fashion designers are pondering what it means to look rich. But the dominance of Silicon Valley—and the ultra casual, un-groomed look it peddles—has permeated the rest of the one-percent fashion scene. The less you care about your look, in other words, the more money and power you have.
At the moment, the nonchalance of magnificent wealth is manifesting in what you might call “anti-seasonal layering”—a shirt that suggests the weather is balmy, with a piece of outerwear that suggests the weather is frigid. Capital Group’s Carl Kawaja put a navy slim-fit polo under an orange quilted puffer vest, Digital Commons LLC CEO Shelby Bonnie put a tee under the coveted Sun Valley vest, and Twitter’s Ned Segal put a slim knit under a slim green vest. News Corp CEO Robert Thomson put an orange button-down under a black quilted puffer jacket—with a perforated straw fedora adding to the climatic confusion. Lachlan Murdoch not only drove forward the Anti-Seasonal Layering trend, in a rib knit shirt and puffer vest, but also left his collar strangely tucked under. A hint of sprezzatura, or a nod to his rising power within the Murdoch empire? This fraught relationship between fabric weight and sleeve length is perhaps matched only by Bill Belichick’s homemade kimono sleeve Patriots Sweatshirt collection.
Hank Crumpton alone seemed to grasp the fundamentals of layering, putting the crucial midlayer—here, a zip-up Sun Valley 2019 track jacket—between his base and his black Patagonia vest outerwear. Crumpton is the CEO of Crumpton Group, which he named after himself—an indulgence he deserves because he knows how to get dressed.
Is Anti-Seasonal Layering a troubled nod to climate change? We may never know, because Sun Valley is, as the signs captured in many paparazzi images reminded us, a “PRIVATE FUNCTION.”
Wraparound Villain Sunglasses
Billionaires must be reading GQ! Several attendees wore the wraparound racer sunglasses that we proclaimed would be the defining frame of the summer. With tech-business-casual, they had a cool villain mystique: see Richard Feldman of Durance Cycleworks, Nike’s Phil Knight in the jet black, and Alex Karp in this ad for sunblock hair gel from 1986.
Vivi Nevo: The Original Jack Dorsey
Dorsey is not the first dark fashion lord to enter the Sun Valley inner circle. That guy who appears to asking everyone for a ride to the Marilyn Manson concert is in fact venture capitalist Vivi Nevo, who prowled the conference in slithery jet black, a new beard advancing his sagelike demeanor. Step aside, Dorsey: this is Nevo’s year. See you in Paris!
Talking On the Phone
Fact: a tube of Maybelline mascara is sold every two seconds, and an article about how no one talks on the phone anymore is written every three seconds. Except for billionaires. Billionaires love talking on the phone. Traditionally, you aren’t allowed to use the phone at summer camp, but it’s different for billionaires. W. Porter Payne, Jr., Alex Karp, and Pinterest’s Paul Sciarra were just a few of the attendees chatting away on the phone. How else are you going to finalize those deals?
Originally Appeared on GQ