Once a year, for five days in July, the most valuable commodity in the world is not a semi-precious metal or a national currency or even bitcoin.
Fleece vests, fleece jackets and fleece parkas, that are worn in cherry red, navy blue and ecru by the 300 titans of industry who are selected each year to attend the annual Allen & Company conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
The invite list is packed tight with power players, most of whom have a net worth in the ten to evolve-figure range, and this year includes the likes of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Sergey Brin.
Those four men had a combined worth of $333.8 billion at the close of the market on Friday according to Forbes, and even better than that, a closet full of fleece paraphernalia from Allen & Company conferences of years past.
Mike Bloomberg is a veteran of the Sun Valley conference, and is seen wearing his official fleece vest on Thursday
Former eBay CEO John Donahoe and his wife are seen in the unofficial conference uniform, while General Motors CEO Mary Barra opts for her own jacket. Her husband Tony is seen proudly wearing his though
While being seen in the official uniform sends a strong message, the fleece also serves a very practical purpose in the aptly named resort town, where temperatures in the summer can dip into the 40s at daybreak and then rocket into the 80s by noon.
That’s why fleeces, along with nylon windbreakers and vests, polos and hats are all up for the taking when guests check in to the conference.
Day one kicks off in the afternoon, but the following four all begin at daybreak, with guests grabbing breakfast and heading off to the first session of the day as the bank of press photographers who are kept penned up on the perimeter of the venue snap away for the few minutes they have to capture the billionaires.
And it’s not too hard to recognize the heavy hitters, who are usually dressed in red, white or blue fleece.
The only change made to the outerwear at each conference is the year embroidered on the chest of each jacket and vest, next to the town’s initials, SV.
The colors and style remain the same.
Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is a fan of the vest, though his son Lachlan has not been seen rugging up in the official merchandise
Belinda Johnson, COO of AirBnB, chose a red parka for the 2018 conference
Horizon Media founder Bill Koenigsberg, Mexican beverage tycoon Jose Antonio Fernandez and Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, all chose a blue fleece vest, teamed with a pale blue shirt
Almost every guest dons their vest, often with straight leg jeans, Nikes and designer sunglasses of the ‘O’ or ‘P’ variety – Oakley, Pearsol or Oliver Peoples.
There are of course exceptions, with some preferring Patagonia or their own golf fleeces or pullovers or hoodies.
The first is Zuckerberg, who has been attending the conference for close to a decade now. The social media tycoon has remained on a strict sartorial diet of jeans, fitted tees and hoodies.
He only breaks when testifying in front of Congress and getting married.
Zuckerberg is also the one attendee who breaks the cardinal role of the conference which states that all guests must wear a name tag on their chest while on the premises.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, vice president Dan Rose and COO Sheryl Sandberg all shunned the unofficial uniform
Prominent banker Dan Lufkin is another fleece vest devotee. He, like many others, chooses to pair his with a pale blue shirt
Children get a green lanyard and staff one in red at the event, where guests are encouraged to bring their families for the five-day conference.
Diane Von Furstenberg loves to layer, but generally opts for more luxurious fabrics by wearing leather coats and cashmere scarfs as she braves the Idaho chill.
Jerry Hall, who arrived this ear on the arm of her husband Rupert Murdoch, and has served as a muse for the the biggest names in fashion (Halston and von Furstenbrg), art (Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha) and rock (Bryan Ferry and Mick Jagger), did not wear anything resembling a vest or a parka, let alone in fleece.
The same goes for the designer Tamara Mellon, whose aesthetic is more suede and silk than sheep and synthetic.
And then there is Stacey Bendet.
The Alice and Olivia CEO and creative director stole the show yet again this year, managing to stand out from the crowd with her stunning selection of sartorial choices over the course of the five-day event.
Alice and Olivia CEO Stacey Bendet is not one for conformity. Instead, she turned heads with bright dresses and oversized accessories
She averaged two looks a day in a variety of colors, prints materials and lengths, changing up everything but her perfectly coiffed-hair and heavily-lined eyes as she headed out on campus, joining her billionaire father-in-law Michel Eisner and husband Eric at the event.
The photographs of the alabaster beauty with raven-black hair that were taken over the course of the week bring to mind a certain Disney princess who also found herself in the middle of the woods trudging after a group of middle-aged leisure-wear enthusiasts each morning.
In both instances it was the fair-skinned heroine that stole the show, while the little men around her inconspicuously built up their wealth.
Because who would ever imagine that seven dwarves were mining a multi-billion dollar diamond mine in those over-sized shirt dresses, or that the biggest deals in American business were being negotiated by a few dudes in fleece.
The fashionista stood out among a sea of executives in fleece vests and pale blue shirts