American Dreams: Free & Easy + Ralph Lauren


Speaking of trad in Japan, the latest issue of Ralph Lauren Magazine has a feature about the Japanese publication Free & Easy. (It’s not by me, though I’ll have a quasi-relevant story coming out soon).

Writes Josh Peskowitz:

Each issue is organized to explore one aspect of the Free & Easy canon. These themes repeat periodically. Three of the most popular are Dad’s Style, Rugged Style and Trad Style. Here’s how Onozato describes each: “Dad’s Style means the man who has his own style, who spends his days immersed in his interests with full intellectual curiosity. He also should do his best for his professional career. This is the style we idealize. Rugged Style is the manly man’s style. It is based on workwear, outdoors and military gear. This man likes things with simplicity and fortitude. Men like Steve McQueen, Takeshi Kaiko and Ralph Lauren are the best examples of ‘rugged’ men. We use the word frequently not only for fashion or style but also lifestyle. Trad Style is the term used often in Japanese men’s and women’s fashion magazines. That is literally from traditional style, but particularly Free & Easygoes with American Trad—or traditional East Coast—style.”

Head over here for the full story. — CC

31 Comments on "American Dreams: Free & Easy + Ralph Lauren"

  1. In what world is Ralph Lauren a “rugged man”?

  2. He’s got a ranch. And a pretty bad-ass car collection.

  3. Mitchell S. | July 21, 2015 at 7:54 pm |

    @Paul: He’s a cowboy, to boot. Also, he designs his clothes so that they look best after years of wear. Think threadbare New England WASP.

  4. foster frost | July 22, 2015 at 12:23 am |

    Ralph is a salesman. Although he does look vaguely rugged when wearing his ribboned espadrilles in East Hampton. Real rugged are the dudes who work for Air Sea. They are the ones who cart Ralph’s crap all over the city and the globe. They are rugged for real and don’t own a car much less a collection.

  5. I personally can’t argue with m. Lauren’s lifestyle. From my former days with the government (civilian and military) I can probably convince most people that I was a bad-a## when I was younger, but if I woke up one day and found that my business was worth a few billion dollars, I might actually buy a ranch, a bunch of nice cars and wear ribboned espadrilles in East Hampton.

  6. Yeah, it’s just not fair that one man has a car collection and another doesn’t own a car. Hillary’s going to fix that. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.

  7. Yes, yes, I’ve seen the pictures of him, leaning against a ranch fence in his denim jacket and turquoise belt buckle: he looks like Vincent Price on a bad day. And as far as riding horses, I know a lot of little girls who do that in jodhpurs.

    There’s no denying that the man’s car collection is truly spectacular, with a true appreciation for history and aesthetics, or that the guy is *the* salesman ne plus ultra. So props for that.
    I’m just not sure how any of that puts him in the same discussion as Steve McQueen (or similar) when discussing “ruggedness”.

  8. Ward Wickers | July 22, 2015 at 10:55 am |

    I’d say RL portrays a sense of ruggedness. His ruggedness reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s ruggedness.

  9. @Seve

    I’m sure you wouldn’t let me publically bad-mouth YOUR clients on YOUR OWN website.

  10. If a billionaire says he is a rugged man, then he is a rugged man.

  11. Billionaires don’t need to say anything about themselves. And he didn’t. An editor in another country did.

  12. @ Seve – depends on what you mean by “poser”. Ultimately, Ralph has done something quintessentially-American: ignore who you are, and instead turn yourself into exactly who you want to be. Like nerdy Hugh Hefner literally willing himself into becoming a suave playboy. And, like Hef, in so doing Ralph’s created an empire. No shame there. But let’s not pretend that when he plays “rancher” or “cowboy”, he actually is one.

  13. Ward Wickers | July 22, 2015 at 12:38 pm |


    I thought comparing RL to RR was a bit negative, but maybe you are republican

  14. Christian @12:28

    I know, but I can’t read Japanese.

  15. This talk of billionaires reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

    “I am not a paranoid deranged millionaire. Goddammit, I’m a billionaire!” – Howard Hughes

  16. As from someone who’s met Ralph Lauren, he’s the furthest thing from rugged. He’s like 5’5 130lbs and speaks with almost a mumble whisper. He had/has vision, and we’ve all bought into it. He owns a ranch because the movie stars of his generation all played cowboys… he lives his fantasies.

  17. Ward,

    I was going to say like GWB. Not sure if that is better or worse?


    Not sure what you said, but based on some of the socio-political comments that are allowed to stay it must have been pretty vicious.

  18. I think I give pretty free rein here. You guys can more or less say what you want, and if people think it’s too curmudgeonly in the comments section, then maybe the young and progressive should speak up more.

    But it’s my site, and you don’t get to say mean things about my friends, colleagues and clients.

    About me is OK up to a point.


    I accuse you of insensitivity to the vertically challenged. Who says you can’t be 5’5″ and rugged?

    Also, did it cross anyone’s mind that the Japanese editor was referring to the brand (such as the RRL collection), not the man?

  19. Mean? I just said “Raplh Lauren” isn’t real or remotely authentic. I understand that Christian writes for their magazine, but in the context of the posted article I think it’s noteworthy.

  20. You said it more harshly, and there’s often a whiff of anti-semitism when people invoke his birth name when making that kind of disparaging remark.

  21. Ward Wickers | July 22, 2015 at 3:23 pm |


    If you mean GWB the younger, I would say worse. Reagan was at least a decent president.


    The author said, “Men like Steve McQueen, Takeshi Kaiko and Ralph Lauren are the best examples of ‘rugged’ men.” I’m not familiar with Takeshi-san. Are you saying the author is strictly referring to these men’s style? In other words, “Men like Steve McQueen, Takeshi Kaiko and Ralph Lauren wear the best examples of the ‘rugged’ man style?”

  22. Ah, so he was referring to the man not the brand…

    Then I guess it’s simply a case of someone said something some of us don’t agree with.

    Well that was easy!

  23. Vern Trotter | July 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm |

    We have a fair editor here who likely lets us get away with too much churlishness, animus and splenetic comment. Nothing wrong with defending your friends, either. I have done much worse, under oath.

    Any discussion of RL always ignores the racial discrimination suits of 2002 ,that are public record, because black employees were denied sales positions and forced to work in the stock room. Blacks were not shown in advertisements either, only blond, blue eyed, Aryan types. Some of us remember. Ralph should be commended for taking corrective action.

  24. He sources superb cloth–I’ll give him that. Vanners silk, beefy oxford cloth, Harris Tweeds, Fresco suitings.

    The Rugby (sub) brand had such potential. Oh, what it could have been (sigh)…

  25. The grapevine hinted that he was interested in Southwick before the purchase by Brooks and subsequent relocation. I wonder what he would’ve done with his own factory, especially now that he’s offering more OTR made-in-the-USA clothing (jackets, suits).

  26. Rugged is obviously prone to being nuanced and highly subjective. I found Mr. Lauren a bit effete however anyone who has met him can attest he is a consummate gentleman and gracious host. His personal style often invokes a more bucolic and rusticated feel, so perhaps this may align with “rugged.”

    I must say I feel a certain perverse glee when I see the pugnacious petulance of some of your more politically motivated commenters, CC. You certainly handle them with aplomb and savoire faire. Who would’ve thought fashion could be so politically charged!!

  27. Because we’re not only talking about fashion. People may say this is “a clothes blog,” but you’ve never heard me say that.

  28. It’s like these folks are complaining that there should be less articles and more photos in Playboy or Esquire during those mags heyday. Keep up the good work Christian.

    I must say, I’ve only been slightly offended by Gucci and Belgium loafer articles. 😉

  29. Bags' Groove | July 23, 2015 at 3:01 am |

    Alan Ladd was 5’5″ and most definitely rugged, and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise. Shane. Will I ever stop wiping away a tear at the mere mention of it?

  30. Ward Wickers | July 23, 2015 at 9:25 am |

    The last of the true cowboys probably didn’t make it too far into the early 20th Century. In today’s world, when I think of someone who is rugged, the alpine mountaineer comes to mind. These men and women don’t wear trad, though, except maybe an item or two from the Patagonia catalogue. The most dedicated of this lot are known as “dirtbags”–a term coined by Yvonne Chouinard, founder and CEO of Patagonia. As the epithet suggests, they aren’t into looking good.

    Their sole focus is on climbing and traveling around the world to choice climbing destinations. They work a few months so they can climb the remainder of the year. Their money is spent on gear, beer, and food, roughly in that order. Clothing is functional only. Cut and color really don’t matter and most natural materials are eschewed for more functional synthetics.

    The point? I think in today’s world, ruggedness as portrayed by the clothing industry, is essentially selling clothes that symbolize old myths of cowboys, climbers, explorers, great outdoorsmen, etc. The trad clothing industry isn’t selling to them (i.e., rugged individuals); they are selling the myth. Some of the clothing companies such as Orvis and LL Bean did start as purveyors of clothing specific to outdoor pursuits. But when was the last time we had a Teddy Roosevelt or an Ernest Hemingway? And, frankly, I don’t see McQueen or Lauren in this camp. When I think of RL and Polo, I think of high quality, trad clothing, but not ‘rugged.’

  31. Ward Wickers
    There are plenty of working cowboys, granted there are no longer 1000 mile cattle drives. But, guys like actor Ben Johnson didn’t die till 1996.

    Bags’ Groove
    Ben Johnson was in “Shane” and many more classics.

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