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