Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Black, Purple, Double, Polo, Rugby | Whatever it may be...

they have it for you. Ralph Lauren has hit the market since its conception with a punch, changing and morphing the way we think about a single brand. From their Black Label and Purple Label of Italian inspired slim fit suiting and slacks to their RRL line where if I did not know better I would have thought I walked into a cowboys heaven.

And then there is the Polo line which has inspired Ivy League Trads to be as preppy as they can be pairing their pink Polo shorts, blue oxford shirts and Weegums. But in comparison, the Rugby line is a fresh, and younger feeling line aimed for the a more casual crowd with a line of rugby shirts, cargo shorts and the like.

I personally follow Ralph Lauren quite closely for he is what I think to be the leader in marketing and merchandising. After the jump you will find a small bio on Ralph Lauren himself and some facts about each of the lines including pictures. Feel free to take a look.

Ralph Lauren, born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz, was born to Ashkenazic parents in Brooklyn, New York. While still young Lauren worked after school to support his shopping habits and to purchase suits. He was later known by his schoolmates for retailing ties to each of them. He later dropped out of college to join the United States Army. Once discharged he got married and worked for Brooks Brothers as a Salesman.

In 1967 with the help of a financier Lauren opened a tie shop where he would sell his own ties under the name "Polo". He quickly gained fame with his short-sleeved mesh shirt with the signature polo player on it and won the City award for his menswear. After which he was commissioned to do the costumes for the Robert Redford version of the Great Gatsby. And the rest is history...

So, where do I start? The infamous Polo line that made him famous or maybe the RRL that has got everyone running to the Bleecker street to get their fix of Americana. I will start with the Black and Purple labels that has been lying low in comparison to the previous two but is up there on my list. The Italian influence of the slim cut slacks in a plethora of fabrics like pinstripes and herringbone and the light pastel sweaters matched with ascots invokes an old world feel in a fresh young way. Italy has been hitting the target with their bespoke suiting for some years now and Ralph Lauren tapped that market without looking like an American capitalizing on Italian style. And this is not the only market he has hit right on the head with.

When it comes to marketing and merchandising the Rugby line falls in a close second to RRL but hits the market strong. Their newly acquired collaboration with TOMS shoes and their casual style is like nothing they have done before, but they did not lose their signature style by taking such a large step off their beaten path. They have kept their skulls in a new fashion, and their general East coast style while mixing in the casual feel of the West coast. East coast preppy with a little West coast casual, it is pure perfection in the late teens to early 20's market.

So, it was said all to perfectly already and I do not like to quote people fully, but I absolutely have to in this case. "To many, the name Ralph Lauren evokes images of upper-crust Ivy Leaguers sunbathing on yachts and playing polo. But RRL—the label’s cowboy-influenced offshoot—replaces preppy with rugged for a clothing line straight out of the Marlboro Man’s closet. Racks are stuffed with vintage flannel shirts, artfully wrinkled blouses, and outdoorsy vests while the array of cowboy boots look so beat up you’ll wonder if they'd make it through a New York winter. Jeans are the focal point: The store carries over 14 different washes, some with intentional holes and stains; all with their own corresponding pocket designs. What with the tattered rugs, faded black-and-white photos, and Americana music, if it weren't for the sales clerks, who look a little too gelled for the prairies, you'd think you’d taken a wrong turn and wound up somewhere way down Route 66." — Melissa Noble

And, the namesake that started it all. The classic Ivy League influence and the label that might as well have coined the word prep. There is nothing I can say without undermining what Polo Ralph Lauren has done.

Lastly, with Foster Huntington of A Restless Transplant and Fat of the Land interning at Polo Ralph Lauren I will keeping in contact with him in order to keep updated on the inner workings. So check back to see some more on Ralph Lauren.