Last week I stopped by the Ralph Lauren Madison Avenue flagship, where the collegiate trend was out in full force. I quickly and stealthily took some iPhone snapshots, and then chatted with what you might call the chief decorating officer. Together we expressed our curiosity as to how the fashion-consuming public will respond to the items.
As you will see, there is excessive late-stage mish-mashing of patterns and styles, including excessive patchwork and logos combined with frayed jeans and military garb. Older readers are advised to turn their eyes from such images, which are provided for entertainment and color-inspiration purposes only.
And so here we go: 42 mannequin outfits, plus a handful of bonus images for color and combo ideas. There may be an encore, so stay tuned. — CC
The visuals person who decorated those mannequins should be fired. I have eye strain from looking at all those terrible color combinations. Putting a rugby shirt under a suit and tie is a sartorial crime.
“Older readers are advised to turn their eyes from such images.”
Remember before you comment- You’ll be dead soon. You are RL’s old customers. They are not trying to court you anymore. They are looking to snag/keep younger ones for the next 20 or 30 years.
I’m having a hard time determining if Rowing Blazers has copied RL or if RL is copying Rowing Blazers. Either way I think this contemporary interpretation of the aesthetic is rockin’.
Yes, some of these go over the top in pattern mixing, but there are a number of wonderful, soft-shouldered 3/2 roll jackets this season. That first look below the text is pretty unimpeachable, as is the look halfway down with a fair isle vest, pleated chinos and brown herringbone jacket. I’m also a fan of that glen plaid jacket with leather buttons we see paired with a bright red sweater.
A lot of nice stuff. A couple new (to me) uses for the Argyle & Sutherland pattern; I like ’em both.
This makes me miss Rugby in Chapel Hill that much more…
I do not know whether the self-parody was intentional or
that unmoored fashionistas were put in charge of window decoration.
The result is a multi-count “sartorial crime” indeed!
The best I can say is that the 13th photo from the top has a nice navy tie with a yellow bar stripe. But the same time can be had from Brooks Brothers and J. Press.
I like the covert coat featured in two or three photos. Can’t tell if it’s covert cloth or something less robust, but it looks rather nice.
I see a lot that I like. I especially like the extensive use of collar pins, something I learned a lot about on this site.
Are pleated trousers “in” again?
Positive: The Doeskin blazers both double and single breasted. In my view, these are OTR grails, far more flattering than Brooks or Press OTR offerings.
Neutral: Lots of pleats. In my view, you don’t want to wear these if you’re larger, though from my experience buying an RL with pleats last year, they are super comfortable and look great if worn properly (high).
Negative: The blue oxford with inked on scribbles and imagery looks to streetwearish for me.
Favorite “with-a-twist” item that I would actually wear: The Black Watch Tartan Balmacaan overcoat with the beige corduroy collar looks really nice.
So if I counted correctly, there are 44 mannequins, and I found 27 that I liked. In some cases, I liked ones that had two three good elements and one bad. Any mannequin on which a badge or letter was predominantly displayed was disliked.
So he’s batting a little over .500 with me. That’s not bad.
There is a significant absence: the Polo logo. Not on one item. Stupid badges are okay but not a logo with billions of dollars invested in it? Interesting.
Whoever conceived the turned up collars on the sport coats should be drowned in spaghetti sauce.
A lot of nice items here if one can look past the awkward juxtapositions. I simply must have that Black Watch overcoat with the corduroy collar…
Part of Ralph’s trouble from a corporate/financial/growth standpoint over the past two-three years was due, in my view, to overexposure of that logo. It was in need of a dialback.
I agree with you about the pony logo being over-used, which is one reason why I haven’t worn an RL product since about 1982. I meant to convey that I found it interesting they had stopped overusing it. The badges and BS that replaced it are actually worse because of the shear stupid size and childishness.
I loathe logos in general, and it offends me if a brand expects me to be its walking billboard. My only exception is the University of Texas longhorn logo. Hook’em and OU still sucks!
Another thing I just realized… While i’m a mere 33 years old, and have lived in major metropolitans all my life, I honestly cannot think of or remember a single time in my life that I have ever seen someone wear a club collar (with a tie). The closest would be one scene in Wall Street were Gekko did. Could it be argued the club collar should be rendered historical costume, and go the way of the frock coat?
Ralph’s Greatest Hits an’t so great.
Thank you CC for the tour de force!
Reminds me of the golden years of RL…
To the younger folks out there, this stuff is fresh and exciting (hopefully).
Miss living in The City and frequenting the mansion, really a groundbreaking retail space.
While RL remains a fantastic place to buy an OTR covert cloth coat or tweed three piece (no idea if these items are still made by Corneliani but I have a Cashmere polo coat that was, and it’s glorious), I’m afraid that most of this is just obscurantist class worship and costume (Pants embroidered “class of 67”???) . Bottom line: I buy stuff there, but I’m still firmly in the camp who would be embarrassed to say that my coat came from here and not a place like Oconnell’s. And for the record, I’m in my twenties. On the other hand, if you’re going for fashionable, imaginative and interpretative: fantastic. I just feel like the real article always has a folksy aloofness that makes you feel like you can stand time still despite the world’s turning, even if you’re pressing the “PayPal” button.
Some of these are definitely for the younger crowd,but could a man in his late 50’s wear this? There is a lot I like? Advice please??
Once more RL might help to make survive preppy/trad/ivy clothing for the younger fellows among us.
Many of the items are unwearable for the over 40’s but they will attract a younger public.
Well done Ralph…
Caustic Man said:
‘I think this contemporary interpretation of the aesthetic is rockin’.
Spot on. This look will be huge. Not for me at my age, but thoroughly good to look at. I only hope it doesn’t become more exaggerated.
Some nice items here like jackets and shoes. Some awful stuff too, like the yellow “class of 68” pants.
Just pick the best and forget the rest…
As far as I am concerned, Polo as a brand died in 2012. What happened then?
At that point, Polo (what many also called Blue Label) encompassed items ranging from really beautiful tailored stuff, made in Italy by Corneliani, from fabrics of cashmere, linen, silk/wool blends. Some of this at the higher end, almost overlapped with RLPL (and also Black Label, although this was a slightly different style.) At the other end, you had the department store chinos and polos and Americana sportswear that overlapped in some way with Rugby.
In about 2012, I think they realized they can’t sell all of this merch and at the MSRPs they traditionally enjoyed. The crisis in most of retail didn’t help either. (Much of the reason I really liked Polo was that invariably you knew you could get whatever you liked at 25% or more discount if you were patient.) Rugby is shuttered (no loss from my perspective.) Polo realizes they are competing more with J.Crew and the Ludlow suit and SuitSupply and the like, so they move the production site to a factory in Slovakia, ditch the full Bemberg linings for quarter-lined, axe the luxurious fabric offerings, and even flirt with suit separates. Keep the garish skull and bones badges from Rugby. Hard to believe that they couldn’t sell more of the pre-scribbled chinos at that now scuttled Fifth Ave. flagship.
But the final word on Polo comes from this blogpost-
Camouflage? CAMOUFLAGE??!! Why, that’s like tossing Ted Nugent and Co., circa 1980, into a clambake on Martha’s Vineyard. More seriously though, any sort of showroom displays featuring this much stuff thrown together for marketing and sales purposes make it difficult to focus in on the few genuinely nice, more understated pieces that might be worth acquiring. Visual static in other words.
Anyone know where this stuff is made?
Lots here to like, when you adjust for staff choices like color combinations and the items I personally wouldn’t wear, like the stuff plastered with oversize logos (RL may have done it first, but it looks very Hollister/American Eagle to me now). RL isn’t my go-to, but it’s always interesting to see, from a meta, postmodern-Ivy perspective.
Bravo. Between this, the fall ’18 J. Press stock, and a multitude of online preppy/trad/Ivy outposts, the style in question seems to alive and well.
“We decided to just stay preppy, as though nothing had happened.”
The good, the bad and the ugly. Some nice sport coats and blazers, along with silly combinations. My biggest problem with the Polo line (especially the tailored clothing) is that it is way overpriced. (BTW, I’m 74)
I agree that there are good, bad and ugly looks represented, as Richard Meyer says above. I love the tweeds, especially the brown POW, and am very much in favor of the pined club collars. There are nice shirt and tie combinations, and the doeskin flannel blazer, a Polo mainstay for decades, still looks great, if not exactly Ivy. Pre-torn jeans and garish logos look bad no matter how young one is, but much of the other stuff could be worn in the real world by under-30 folk, and would be an improvement on most of what is promoted by GQ or seen on the average college campus. For some reason, odd juxtapositions in ads and shop windows are the norm these days, but many individual item are fine. I have much in my closet that is similar, although the styling and fit may be a bit different. For better composed looks, I suggest the Fall J. Press brochure.
Benjamin – If you want to see pinned club collars, you can catch them on Christian and on me from time to time. Admittedly, I see them rarely, but they are not without their fans. Perhaps less common than proper hats (which are themselves quite rare), but not extinct yet.
Been away. When did pleats make a comeback?
Imagine the clothing on these mannequins without all the patches with the exception of the signature “player & pony” logo on the button downs, knit shirts and an occasional tie. That would be the 1970s Polo.
@Richard Meyer: You’re right, Polo is outrageously expensive. You have to have a trust fund to afford their tailored clothing. And not all of it is made in Italy. Some shirts, for example, are made in countries where the minimum wage is one dollar.
The Master’s logo, the Yale Y and the Red Sox’ Sox are three of the best logos I can recall just now. Also the Allblacks rugby logo.
Should be two words: All Blacks.
The only logo or advertising I have ever endorsed was the MacDonald’s Hamburger slogan, “Make it Mac tonight”.
I will take the suits and the sport coats,the shoes, a few ties and the purple socks please.
Thanks for posting these Christian! Keep them coming! These Rhinelander Mansion posts have been some of my personal favorites. The largest Polo stores we have in St. Louis are Polo boutiques inside Macy’s, so I don’t get to see the store displays for their tailored offerings or the full collection. Ralph Lauren store displays are simply beautiful, so it’s nice to see them vicariously!
I stopped by this store this afternoon. I really wanted to see the long collar point shirts with stickpins. To my chagrin these were just button downs left unbuttoned. I did not notice in the photos. Hard to tell unless you look closely. They really would look much better with long collar point shirts and no unbuttoned buttons. They had none of these.
Who wears their high school letter jacket past….High school? (Al Bundy, I scored 4 touchdowns in a game 30 years ago….)