the money game

Mark Zuckerberg Corrected Me About His Sweater on Instagram

This probably isn’t Loro Piana, either. Photo: Anonymous

Like most journalists, I live in fear of getting something wrong. Corrections usually come in the form of an angry phone call or scolding email, along with a heavy dose of shame. They don’t usually arrive on Instagram, which is where I found out on Wednesday that Mark Zuckerberg was disputing the photo caption for a story I wrote, which had identified the sweater he was wearing as Loro Piana.

“That shirt is Buck Mason,” Zuck replied, dropping into the comments on the post from the Cut’s account. “Also fancy.”

A couple of weeks ago, as I began writing about how elite circles of tech bros were heavily into Loro Piana, I began to think about photo selection for the story. The lead characters of Succession had popularized the “quiet luxury” trend by rocking the brand, and Bill Gates had long been a customer. But ideally, the poster boy (as it were) for this article would be a real-life tech CEO with the power to influence business and fashion trends, and who had recently been publicly photographed in Loro Piana.

Who better than Mark Zuckerberg? The CEO of Meta had, after all, been a forefather of modern Silicon Valley style, a fashion icon in those parts who was single-handedly responsible for making the hoodie acceptable workwear at start-ups and IT departments worldwide. And I had it on good authority that at some point in the evolution from Facebook, Inc. to Meta Platforms — from Harvard dropout to eighth-richest man in the world as of Thursday — he’d upgraded his signature sweatshirt from Fruit of the Loom (or some such) to a cashmere version from Loro Piana, weaver of the softest, probably most expensive off-the-rack sweater in the world.

But the New York photo department had to find the right picture. They came across a shot of a chic-looking Zuckerberg strolling the conference grounds at Paul Allen & Co.’s annual summer Sun Valley confab — the off-record gathering of top tech CEOs and investors — in what appeared to be a luxe blue sweater. No hood, but the tailored fit and seamless, label-free look seemed very stealth-wealthy and promising.

I am not a fashion writer, and it is not easy to definitively ID the brand of an intentionally logo-less item of clothing, much less from only a photo, when you can’t even touch the material or study the thread count of the fibers up close. And for some of the richest and most famous people who wear this particular designer, the whole point is that they don’t want you to be able to guess where they shop (or how much money they spend on clothes), making the task even more challenging. But I did my fact-checking due diligence nonetheless. I spent more of my day than I’d frankly like to admit performing Investigative Journalism, asking stylists and the brand itself the all-important question: Was this soft-looking blue long-sleeve Zuck wore to Sun Valley’s “summer camp for billionaires” from Loro Piana? A spokesperson for the Italian fashion house declined to verify, writing only, “Since it’s not a communication activity nor an official press appearance, I am not able to comment on items that clients might have purchased.” (He’d already confirmed Jeremy Strong had worn several of the label’s items as Kendall Roy in Succession.) But a prominent stylist who works with a number of Silicon Valley CEOs had reviewed the photo, and in consultation with a knowledgeable New York City menswear salesperson, had rendered a verdict: The sweater was most likely Loro Piana.

This was about as sure as I could get. Who, after all, could say differently — if not the fashion experts and retail specialists — than Zuckerberg himself? And if the CEO of a $780 billion tech company deigned to correct the record on what brand of sweater he prefers, well, then that could be a story in and of itself.

And here we are; I officially stand corrected. Buck Mason’s “California cashmere” crewneck sweater, which looks similar to the one Zuckerberg is wearing in the photo, retails for $228. (The photo itself is from Sun Valley 2018, so the exact garments the CEO is wearing are likely not still for sale.)

According to a person close to the CEO and his wardrobe (a correction of this nature demanded additional Investigative Journalism), Zuckerberg still wears some Loro Piana (such as its hoodies) — but these days he prefers somewhat more affordable menswear brands, including Buck Mason, Todd Snyder, and John Elliott for his shirts, sweaters, and pants. For workout gear, beachwear and athleisure, he wears Vuori and surfer Kelly Slater’s line Outerknown. He favors sneakers from Nike and slides from Adidas.

Of course, I can’t fully verify Zuckerberg’s claims about his sweater unless he shows us his tags. (New York’s social-media team has officially requested a closet tour in a reply to his Instagram comment.) Regardless, this episode raises an important question: If people can’t tell the difference between an astronomically expensive brand and a semi-affordable one, what’s the point of spending several thousands of dollars on a sweater anyway? Perhaps only Kendall Roy knows the answer.

Mark Zuckerberg Corrected Me About His Sweater on Instagram