Philipp Plein has a tattoo that spells out ‘Billionaire’ in big letters.
Philipp Plein told a Milan fashion audience “I’m trying to fuck your mind tonight” in 2015.
Philipp Plein wears skinny leather pants and is adorned in his large double-P logo.
Philipp Plein’s wholesale director asked New Yorker journalist Naomi Fry; “Which hetero guy in the world wouldn’t want to look like this?”

And yet we cannot snuff at Plein especially when it comes to his ability to build a brand. Fans of his collections include iconic actor Nicolas Cage, Cristiano Ronaldo, and New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams. The Philipp Plein line comprises men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, along with timepieces, eyewear, perfume, and a recently unveiled home collection. Last year, the Plein brand had a net global revenue of two hundred and fifteen million euros, on a par with luxury brands such as Thom Browne and Dries Van Noten. The goods are sold in ninety-five dedicated Philipp Plein shops and in more than five hundred multi-brand luxury boutiques worldwide. Plein has high expectations for the new venture, which he hopes will become a premium alternative to brands such as Nike and Puma. 

Despite such success in the fashion industry itself, Plein and his brand just seem so disconnected to the fashion world. Dubbed by a menswear journalist at thee ‘Andrew Tate of fashion’, Plein’s naughty-playboy, well-off hair-metal rocker white hip-hop impresario, “Jersey Shore” inspired look would have the likes of Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld gagging (and not in a good way). Plein himself is aware of this and has claimed he doesn’t look to the fashion industry as a source of inspiration. He told the New Yorker that he prefers an ‘underdog’, ‘Elon Musk is my hero’. 

While dubbed the Andrew Tate of the fashion world I see him more as its Great Gatsby – neither in a good or bad way. He is so ‘new money’-esque in comparison to the Parisian decadence and heritage-obsessed creativity of the major fashion houses. Plein owns homes around the world: in Lugano, Switzerland, Cannes, and on New York’s Upper East Side (he also owns a fleet of luxury vehicles, among them four Rolls-Royces). In 2014, he bought Chateau Falconview, a two-hundred-and-fifty-million-dollar mansion in Los Angeles, whose build-out on a Bel Air hilltop has proved so ambitious and complicated that it is still under way, nine years later. Snoop Dogg was at his house posing for pictures only the other day. Plein refuses to design garments that are stuffy or unyielding, even though high fashion has long been associated with pain and discomfort.

In the same way that the old elites looked down on Gatsby, his new money interpretation of opulence was growing popular due to economic turmoil of the time. The same can be said today. More recently, following the logomania and maximalism of the early two-thousands, which spawned the Philipp Plein line, fashion has seen a return to a low-key, less easily identifiable type of luxury—a trend known as “stealth wealth.” In a period of economic and political turmoil, even the rich, as the style reporter Lauren Sherman has noted in her newsletter for the Web site Puck, have “stopped wanting to look so obviously rich.” 

His opinions are also very truth-telling and outrageous (perhaps validating the comparison to Tate here). Plein isn’t shy about expressing his disdain for the fashion industry. “Designers are like football players, or modern prostitutes,” he said. “Brands use them as long as they enjoy them and, once they don’t enjoy them, they are exchanged” he told Fry for the New Yorker. Plein’s celebrity customers are generally not quite A-list, but many of the personalities who do wear his brand, such as Ronaldo, are known for peacocking, helping attract the kind of consumers who feel an affinity for a flashy, no-fucks-given attitude. 

Plein recognises the snobbery of the Western fashion world and is one of the only designers willing to embrace more commercial markets to luxury. He mentioned to Fry the rise of Russia as a luxury-consumer market: “Everybody suddenly had matryoshka designs—Chanel, Gucci, Dolce. Everyone! Then it was China, because these are emerging markets, and these people had never seen anything, and they became rich in a very short period of time, and they make money fast and they spend money fast. But then these brands say, ‘Us? Oh, no, no!’ Because they’re embarrassed.” He, however, has no problem admitting which demographic he’s aiming for.

Plein told me that he considers himself apolitical (“I don’t care about politics, I care about my business and my fashion”), but his self-positioning as an underdog hero of the common man, who is successful despite the falsity and the snobbery of the élites, is undeniably Trumpian. (Tiffany Trump also sat in the front row at his show that year.) 

Plein’s brand ideals are also fairly naff. Billionaire is “a maximalist brand, like Plein, but it’s more classic,” he said. It is meant for an older client: “This is for the sugar daddy. He’s in his fifties, he has a beautiful home in Palm Springs or Miami. In the summer, he’s in Saint-Tropez. He has a young girlfriend and a fast car.” You would never hear of such marketing in the Western world of fashion, you really only hear of the art and its influences. But perhaps Plein is just more frank, Western brands certainly do market purposefully – they just don’t talk about it…

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