Sixty-Seven Vintage Images To Celebrate Ralph Lauren’s Founding in 1967

In honor of Ralph Lauren‘s 50th anniversary in business, here are 67 vintage marketing images to celebrate the year 1967.




68 Comments on "Sixty-Seven Vintage Images To Celebrate Ralph Lauren’s Founding in 1967"

  1. For me, nothing will ever surpass the early 1980s advertising that RL did with Bruce Weber photographs. The images of Clotilde, the female model who was the muse of that era, are so timeless and radiant. The way the photographs were shot, in film, with natural light, redolent with textures, feeling, emotion and longing…those are the ads that made Ralph Lauren addicting to a generation who hoped to aspire to his vision of life.

    Something has been lost since then, I can’t quite place it, but the new photography is all artifice, surface gloss and devoid of personality. Or maybe it’s because we now have the entire internet to look at, and no image can attain iconic status; whereas one GQ or Vogue in September 1982 exploded upon the newsstand like a meteor.

    In looking at these ads, another brilliant feat is that nothing seems ridiculous or out of fashion. A man or woman who shopped at Ralph Lauren in 1988 could probably wear most of their clothes, save for a very oversized Oxford shirt, and still seem current.

    I hope RL gets its mojo back, and restores its class before its too late.

  2. Wow! What’s not to like?! Congrats to all at RL! Thanks CC, lots of flashbacks for me.

  3. Mac McConnell | September 11, 2017 at 12:35 pm |

    Well done, but there are older ones than these. If I get time I’ll go through some bankers boxes. Hopefully I did lose the pamphlets in one of my moves or a flood.

  4. Mac McConnell | September 11, 2017 at 12:43 pm |

    Andrew
    RL’s not only over-sized the body, but the collars got shorter in the eighties. In the mid 70s RL’s OCBDs had great collar lengths, the body fit like a Gittman with no pockets. About the only items the pony & player logo were on were the OCBD , knit polos and some ties.

  5. Mr. McConnell, I hope you do still have those old RL pamphlets. Would love to see them and would make for a great post!

  6. Where’s Nacho? You can’t have a Polo photo collection without the famous Argentine polo player.

  7. FrontPorchLife | September 11, 2017 at 2:02 pm |

    Last picture; a shocking resemblance to a young Ricky Nelson.

  8. GS

    I was thinking a young Elvis Presley. I remember these images in M, GQ and Esquire. A girl I dated back in the ’90s threw them out. Damn her.

    Will

  9. Sacksuit, it was FPL who said that model looks like Ricky Nelson. I disagree with him but agree with you that he resembles a young Elvis.

  10. Sorry about that GS. Regarding your link, why does Mr. Lauren seem to go out of his way to dress so very badly? Just my opinion. Dig the cars though.

    Will

  11. Charlottesville | September 11, 2017 at 3:27 pm |

    Beautiful. Like Will, I remember many of these images from GQ, Esquire, and the much-missed M, as well as my wife’s issues of Vogue. Makes me anxious to break out the tweed, camel hair and flannel. And thanks for your observations Andrew. Clotilde was indeed a beauty. Hard to believe that she is older than I am, and I bet she is still a looker. Great clothing that we are unlikely to see again. Like silver, antiques, good furniture, bound books, restaurants with tablecloths, good manners and a hundred other things, elegant clothing, particularly for men, seems to be a lost art. At least it lives on in readers of Ivy Style.

  12. Michael Brady | September 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm |

    Thanks for all of that. I could add to the collection!

    What struck me in the retrospective is that the clothing did the talking in the 80’s ads. The models look very comfortable in what they wear. More recently the staging of the ad shots seems forced and the clothing has very little to offer. They look like they can’t wait to change out of it and into something more comfortable and personal. The models probably looked better in what they came to work in.

  13. Pioneer big-wave rider Buzzy Kerbox with a cricket bat. Fabulous!

  14. Richard Meyer | September 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm |

    Bruce Weber and Anthony Edgeworth were the best. The model was also Louis’s first girlfriend in ” Trading Places”
    Agree that Polo has lost its mojo, so to speak. And ridiculously overpriced items, to boot. But those old ads were outstanding

  15. I saw Ralph Lauren on two occasions. First, probably around 1968,
    in the furnishings dept of the Main Bloomingdales store in New York
    checking the displays of his wide ties with a Bloomingdale exec.. At
    the time I guessed that he was wearing Meledandri. The next time,
    in the mid-late 90s, was at the Pebble Beach Concours where he was
    showing one of his classic cars. He was with his wife and was wearing
    a blue, two to b button, double breasted blazer with yellow pleated
    slacks and alligator Belgian loafers. I was elegant in my Benneton
    polo, khakis and New Balance running shoes.

  16. @VAE

    That get up is Thom Brown ridiculous.

    Will

  17. @sacksuit – same sweater as Mr. Boyer! Gifted I’m sure. For someone who cultivates such a careful public image, it’s very odd that Boyer would pal around with Captain Clown Car.

  18. Last Photo: “Talk about a stiff.!..”

  19. NaturalShoulder | September 11, 2017 at 9:21 pm |

    I wore some Polo clothing back in college when I could find it on sale and was an avid reader of GQ and M Magazine (what a great magazine it was). I remember seeing the ads and thinking that some day when I am older and making money I can buy all these great clothes, many of which I would happily wear today. Now that I can actually afford the stuff, I don’t purchase it from Polo. I suppose they still have some things I would want or wear but I don’t really consider them as an option.

  20. I agree that something has been lost from the old to the new ads. Maybe that’s just a nostalgic age thing, but I think back to the RL ads and JCrew catalogs of the 80s…they were communicating a whole story in a spread that you couldn’t help thinking about, wondering, or wanting to be a part of.

    And while it was obviously about the clothes, it was almost like they were secondary, as were the models, to the story. Even in their extreme, they still felt true, and most of the time, nothing seemed terribly forced…it was comfortable. It also felt just a little out of reach, yet possibly attainable.

    Today, everything feels too over the top, trying to hard, and if it’s not about the clothes, the problem is you have no idea what the story line is, nor do you particularly care.

  21. Houghton Mead | September 12, 2017 at 1:24 am |

    sacksuit:

    Mr. Lauren knows that if you’ve got the wrong face, it doesn’t matter how well you dress–so he doesn’t even try.

  22. @Houghton Mead

    Hear! Hear!

  23. I think Mr. Lauren’s face is just fine. I often wear a combination of puffy vest and cut off khakis as I have seen him wear in a picture with his wife (va va vooom by the way) Once he was pictured, I seem to recall, with his Bugatti in a camel polo coat and suit which looked great. But the huge belt buckles, too tight jeans and the jump suit which looks like it might have been a costume worn by Rue McClanahan on Golden Girls back in the ’80s is just strange.

    I’m sorry Ralph. I love you man.

    Will

  24. In Ralph’s defense, he looks pretty good for a guy born prior to WWII. Prior to his purchasing the Colorado ranch he usually dressed to the nines. I personally enjoy his occasional eccentricities. Woody Allen is not handsome and in the past dressed well, see Annie Hall.

    The best examples of how Polo has declined IMO, is their chinos. Note the drape and detailing of the chinos in the above, good rise, functional watch pocket with flap, pleats don’t pucker and welted seam down the leg. Again, see Annie Hall.

    Their shirts now have much shorter tails now, which seem to coincide with the younger crowd’s need to wear them untucked.

    There is just too much wrong with their jackets with the exception of the fabric.

  25. The Tweed photos are amazing and the the photos with Clotilde are stunning. I’ve always preferred the photos of clothing in multiple layers because they really made Polo clothing stand out from other designers. The mixtures of stripes, checks, and solids is what drew me to Polo as well as the mixture of rich fabrics. Add to this the rich interior spaces and accessorized depth in many of the photos and you feel you can almost walk right in to them. Absolutely alluring.

  26. Ralph has dominated Southern preppy since the early 80s. Visit a Sigma Chi or KA house after an autumn Saturday football game and behold a sea of PoloRL OCBDs.

    The old Yarmouth OCBD deserves an Ivy-Style.com article. Easily superior to anything Garland and Gitman are turning out. (where did they find that beefy oxford cloth?) On par with Mercer OCBDs, but the cloth, more selvedge than smooth Supima, was better.

    Much has been made of his revival of tweed (most notably Harris Tweed), but his Harris Tweeds were, relatively speaking, lighter in weight. A finer yarn. How many buying trips did Ralph make to weavers and mills in the UK?

    I recall a circa 80s PoloRL blazer of bold serge. Calls to mind what Mr. Press has shared about Reefer Twill.

    Lots of PoloRL attempts at the Brooks #1 repp in those early days. Rarely see that stripe design on PoloRL ties these days.

    Still one of the few places you can find great wool challis ties.

  27. @ sacksuit

    Mr Ralph Lauren is a true gentleman and a scholar. I met him once in St Mortitz. There is an elegant style about him. He did however get caught up in the trends of the 80’s and 90’s that is why he appears to dress badly in these pictures.

    I met him at the ski lodge, he was wearing a fair isle sweater, tartan scarf and cords. I must admit his ski attire was très impressiońnante.

  28. The Polo OCBD’s sold in Austin, Texas in the late 70’s-early 80’s were inferior to the similarly priced (IIRC) Burt Pulitzers. The cloth started fraying quickly, the collar buttons often broke off, and holes developed around the logo. Wearing a deteriorating Polo untucked became a thing, especially if it was pink, so a guy could actually get his money’s worth out of it. Decaying khakis, beat up shoes or boots, Ray Ban aviators, facial stubble and messy hair completed the outfit.

    Berke Breathed, the Bloom County cartoonist, was a Texas student at the time and used the look for the original Steve Dallas character that appeared in his college newspaper cartoons. Old Steve looked an awful lot like a frat bro of mine who went to high school with Breathed and turned to the look often at UT.

    Here’s an example: http://www.kencollier.org/breathed/breathed1980.gif

  29. Before Brooks Brothers extended their reach (in)to malls and outlet malls, they were few and far between. PoloRL was more accessible–available at the better department stores.

    Funny– 80s preppy is now vintage/retro.

  30. SE

    To your point, there was no BB in Austin until some time in the late 90’s (I think). A long gone local store, Brittains, was the first place I saw Polo.

    A couple of months ago BB closed their store, which was located at a prime in the downtown business district. Interestingly, a JAB store located a few blocks away is still open and selling crap. RL has a store here — in a mall of course.

    The Internet is simply hammering brick and mortar retail.

  31. whiskeydent

    I agree Polo OCBD were inferior to Bert’s in construction, they were also heavier fabric like the Gitman’s. The Polos buttons did break, they were real mother of pearl. I’ve often wondered even at the time whether Gitmans were actually just a continuation of Bert’s after Bert left the field. Same construction and same milk white buttons.

    Polo did have the fact that they had 17+ colors of OCBDs in both solid and university stripe.

  32. Brought back great memories; too bad the brand is but a shadow of its former glory.

  33. I visited the Rodeo Drive RL flagship last week and noticed something striking: there were absolutely no OCBD’s to be found. There was a glass case that housed 3 different colors for display – but none available for sale. The PRL section was about 75% polos, 15% jeans, and 10% tailored coats and pants.

    Another random note – the Highland Park Village store referenced in some of the ads is till at the same location and even uses the same phone number to this day. That’s the closest location to my house – it’s a standalone store.

  34. Mac

    Pulitzer’s cut reminds me of Gitman’s too. I also wonder if I bought pinpoint Pulitzers and didn’t know any better at the time. I have a Gitman pinpoint today that really reminds me of the Pulitzer I had back then.

    Meanwhile, I just visited the Gitman site, and it says their heritage stretches back to the 1930’s. Who knows what that means.

  35. JDD

    I thought you lived in Austin?

  36. whiskeydent
    It means they’ve be making shirts for somebody for a long time. I had a friend who opened an Ivy men’s shop in the late 70s. He would call me when the clothing reps came, he would bounce possible stock items off me. I remember I was selecting shirts that I thought were Pulitzers and suddenly noted the labels were Gitman. I asked him about it, he said they’ve replaced Pulitzers. Afterwords I noticed all the shops that once stocked Pulitzers now carried Gitman. I also noticed Pulitzers sports wear disappeared and shops suddenly moved from his ties to Farrell-Reeds. Maybe Bert will comment, I loved his stuff back in the day.

    Always remember, most of this stuff is jobbed out.

  37. Mac and MacMcConnell are the same person. 😉

  38. @S.E

    Your idea about the RL Polo ‘Yarmouth’ shirt feature on Ivy Style is very good. The Yarmouth was ubiquitous throughout prep schools and colleges in the 80s and 90s. A very trad cut, lots of room in the arms, and unlined collar and cuffs. The blue and pink cloths were perfect and hard wearing. Indeed, a scan of the e-bay reveals many Yarmouths with the tell-tale laundry names Sharpied onto the inner plackets that have survived the rigours of college life in remarkably good shape.

    Do RL/Polo still offer the Yarmouth shirt?

  39. The Yarmouth was great.

    Yup–the buttons were mother of pearl.

  40. Sidey, I believe “Yarmouth” was the name given to Polo’s OCBDs and has since been dropped. I’ve seen them on eBay, they’re made in Hong Kong so how well-made could they be?

  41. Advertising comes and goes; strategic market campaigns varies according to the times, and leadership visions. But, Andrew is totally right when mentioning that sizing has been; in addition to quality and classicism a consistent trade and vision of the institution that is Ralph Lauren. Personal empiricism, for over four decades through the whole spectrum and subsidiaries from shoes to underwear from Purple label to RRL including American Eagle allows me to testify to that. Long Live Ralph Lauren!

  42. @GS

    ‘Yarmouth’ was just one of many shirt designations. This specific shirt was cut fuller than some of the other sub-labels. Over the years I’ve seen them made in Hong Kong, Philippines and Jamaica. I believe in its first incarnation the Yarmouth was manufactured in the US.

  43. Good grief,

    if there ever was a brand and clothing that emphasized clothing that would only fit/look good on 6’1+ august men here it is.

    Really, most of those looks cannot be pulled off unless you are tall and relatively good looking; though i suppose that is true for most model shoots.

  44. Gaba

    Must be why I look so good in Polo.

    Will

  45. NaturalShoulder | September 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm |

    I also remember wearing one of the Big Shirt OCBDs in the early 90s and being impressed with the quality. If memory serves correct (very fuzzy from that era) they have no pony on the chest.

  46. I’ve had a Yarmouth or two but not one currently. To do a tribute we’d need one of you armchair experts to step forward and spearhead it. Drop me a line if you’re up for it.

  47. As short as Polo’s coats are this decade should be a advantage to shorter men. I can’t wait for the trend to exhaust it’s self and get back to normal. The hip pockets on the jackets should be call waist pocket, they are so high to be rendered useless unless one has midget arms.I have always gone suit and sport coat shopping wearing 501s and Weejuns, if the coat doesn’t cover the Levi back pockets and go lower than my junk in the front the coat is too short. Sadly I haven’t found a Polo coat that rises to my parameters for a very long time.

    Question, is that the women in the the 28th image down Mrs.Ricky Lauren (ski wear), the women behind Mr. Polo?

  48. Christian
    The Yarmouth is a full fitting shirt, slightly fuller than what is now called Polo’s classic fit. Both have 2 3/4 collar points. Both have the same buttons same body length, Both sized by specific neck size, but sleeve by range. Something the early Polo would never do, I remember when even their flannel and sports shirts BDs were sized by specific neck and sleeve length, those were the days. I have both Yarmouth and resent classic fits in my closet. (Yes I’m anal, I measured them, aren’t you guys glad I took the day off?) 😉

  49. Henry Contestwinner | September 13, 2017 at 2:13 pm |

    Will Sacksuit wrote,

    “…why does Mr. Lauren seem to go out of his way to dress so very badly?”

    Actually, when I clicked on GS’s link to the NYT article on him, I thought, “what is Karl Lagerfeld doing in this article on Ralph Lauren, and what happened to his high collar?”

  50. gaba, I’m 6’2 and their OCBDs are too short for me. Need to try their big and tall…

  51. whiskeydent

    I currently split my time between Austin and Dallas. The closest RL to where I live in Austin is at the Domain – a location I’m sure you are familiar with. On the few occasions that I’ve visited, the clothing has been bizarrely bohemian. That’s Austin!

  52. Yup. There are many local stores, some with expensive stuff (Stag), that already have that waterfront covered.

    Besides, what Domain shopper is in to bo-ho? The Needless Markup in the Domain sure isn’t selling that crap.

  53. Mr. McConnell, that’s Jane Gill she was a “model” (she’s a real estate agent in the Hamptons) who was frequently featured in Polo’s 80’s ads. Also, Polo’s current OCBDs are alpha-sized and have been for a while now.

    http://www.hamptonsrealestate.com/eng/associate/524-a-526-512441/jane-gill

    Henry, that’s too funny.

    From I-S archives, the Yarmouth:

    http://www.ivy-style.com/a-frayed-so-in-praise-of-beater-clothes.html

  54. I miss that shirt!

  55. GS
    Thanks, Jane still looks great.

    Yes I purchase current Polo BDs in fancy fabrics, but I’ve transitioned to Gitmans from O’Connells for my oxfords.

  56. Mr. McConnell, do you mean to say that you buy RL Purple Label shirts? Because the quality of Polo has been lately. From the fits to the fabrics, like you said about their sport coats they’re too short, the pants (even “classic” fit) all have low rises, etc.

  57. I would purchase a house from Ms. Gill. Am I mistaken, or has she been in a recent commercial for, it think, arthritis medication, doing yoga. She looks lovely and aging gracefully.

    Will

  58. GS
    I’ve never purchased RL Purple Label , most of what RL I buy are just Polo BDs and ties. When I say fancy shirts I mean small plaids, stripes, gingham and tatersails . Even the BD sports shirts in XL fit like a 17-35s that I wear. I don’t buy the narrow ties, that is a shame because they usually are some of the best fabrics.
    As for Polo’s classic fit pants, their regular rise I find too low with short zippers. I’ve purchased some only to wear them when every thing else is at the cleaners. Compare the rise and drape of the pants in the above images to Polo pants of today. I’ve moved on to O’Connells for pants.

    PS I finally found your email, it was in spam. Sorry, but I’ve been off the “grid” since right after tax season till very recently. Been helping friends rebuild on the Kansas Oklahoma border, prairie fires are a bitch. Hard work, but a great time among old friends, the payoff lots of camping, beer and horseback riding. Oh, those Polo western shirts came in handy. 😉

  59. Mr. McConnell, I forgot about Polo’s ties, they are still well-made and sometimes they are offered in decent widths. I bought an old pair of Polo chinos and the fit, rise and construction are superb. I also forgot about the email, sound like you’ve been busy. Get back to me at your leisure, if you could.

  60. Carmelo Pugliatti | September 13, 2017 at 7:32 pm |

    Ralph Lauren’s America is the tantamount of PG Woodhouse’s UK.
    But i like Woodhouse and i like Ralph Lauren.
    At the hell the reality,Hurrah for the dream!
    And,yes,RL clothes were wonderful.

  61. With all due respect–and he does deserve respect–somebody should tell Mr. Lauren that he looks ludicrous in jeans:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQtCAqZuOXs&sns=em

  62. GS
    To answer your question from the previous thread concerning Polo’s seasonal “look books”. They weren’t hardcover books, they were basically 8 to 10 page advertising pamphlets, roughly 9 x 12 on heavy stock. Many of the images above probably were in them, they usually had a theme with no text. The point being that you either got it or you didn’t. I had some that predated 1980. I’ve been looking for them with no luck, I fear they been lost, but I will continue the hunt as I have time.

    When I worked in the business, we would mail them to the “clothes horses” and keep a stack behind the counter for “friends”. I worked in a “chain” of Ivy / Trad shops out of Kansas City that covered Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri with around 14 locations. Obviously with so many locations our addresses weren’t on them and “Polo Shop” wasn’t either.

  63. I’ve always loved the double-breasted overcoats seen in old RL ads. I’ve been looking for a vintage one for years now with no success. Any suggestions from readers??

  64. Michael Brady | September 25, 2017 at 5:37 pm |

    @Andrew

    The Polo topcoats show up on ebay. I sold one a year ago on another clothing forum (camel hair). It’s a lot of coat, particularly when viewed in 2017 context. 80’s clothing had much fuller expression. Buzzy Kerbox can pull it off, but not me. By the way, my favorite Polo coat was a wool gabardine, belted d.b. with a huge alpaca plush collar and full lining. If I remember, the coat was 50″ long, at least. Another was a gabardine / tweed, fly-front reversible bal-collar overcoat, also quite long. I think my son has that stashed away somewhere. I don’t recall ever seeing those coats (other than the camel hair polo) in photo shoots.

  65. @Michael Brady

    The length and fullness is something that is definitely attractive to me. Being 6’4″ and well built myself, modern topcoats or overcoats seem comically short. I feel like I’m wearing some sort of shrunken costume. Give me longer, more relaxed, and chunkier topcoats any day. I can’t say the same for many other 21 year-olds!

  66. Ralph’s styling has really gone out the window, what was often simple and elegant has become basic, and what was novel and exciting has become clownish. They need to get it back

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