From Polo to Purple Label, Ralph Lauren has brought New England style to the forefront of international fashion for four decades.
To Americans, Ralph Lauren is the portrait of classic American style. Polo Ralph Lauren just unveiled its largest European flagship store on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris to showcase a premier assortment of his collections, as well as the designer’s first restaurant on the continent. Lauren was the first American design house to establish a boutique in France when he premiered a landmark store on Place de la Madeleine in the mid-80s, and last year, he opened a shop on the Avenue Montaigne.
From Polo’s casual, preppy style that America has embraced for over four decades, to Purple Label’s luxurious, made-to-measure suits, Ralph Lauren is recognized worldwide as the ambassador of classic American style.
In 1968, Ralph Lauren started Polo fashions, the world of traditional, classic styling that evokes the look of English aristocracy adapted by the sporty, East Coast American elite. Then in 1972, Lauren debuted what became his signature piece—the short-sleeved polo shirt, available in a then unheard of 24 colors and featuring his soon-to-be-famous trademark emblem of the polo player. It is a stalwart of preppy style and a symbol of classic Americana. Expanding into everything from women’s apparel to fragrance, home furnishings, and even restaurants, Lauren created an entire world that has truly redefined American style.
From the start, Lauren was selling much more than clothing and home furnishings; he was selling a lifestyle, a dream. The innovator of lifestyle marketing, he was the first to realize that packaging and presentation were paramount. Unlike others who were selling individual items, he focused his advertising, marketing, and merchandising on presenting idyllic lifestyles amid backgrounds ranging from a cozy, windswept cottage on the bluffs of Montauk to a magnificent equestrian country estate in Virginia’s horse country.
Lauren has had a tremendous impact on the way Americans dress and how we live. Exemplifying the gentrified image he projected, he was the first designer to appear in his own advertising and was often featured with his family in magazines chronicling the lives of the stylish, rich, and famous. The Financial Times recently reported his firm had revenues of $ 5 billion for the fiscal year 2009, and as of 2010, Forbes estimates Lauren’s personal wealth at $ 4.6 billion, making him one of the most affluent entrepreneurs in the world.
Taking a popular East Coast trend and turning it into a lifestyle phenomenon, Polo Ralph Lauren was the original, iconic symbol of the preppy look. Originating at New England prep schools and Ivy League colleges, the preppy look was formerly worn by well-educated, traditional-looking people from well-established, old-monied families theoretically instilled with conservative Protestant values. They attended New England prep schools, such as Groton or Choate, followed by private, ivy-covered New England colleges, such as Harvard and Yale. With their topsiders, popped-up collars, and Nantucket Red shorts faded to pale pink, they summered on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the coast of Maine, enjoying upscale sports such as horseback riding, tennis, squash, and sailing. The classic preppy was pictured as the conservative sportsman, who favored subtlety over ostentation, and would rather winter in Palm Beach than on St. Bart’s.
Many Americans saw the preppy lifestyle as far more exciting, cultured, sporty, and stylish than their own. They wanted to be part of it. Ralph Lauren recognized this and happily obliged.
Polo Ralph Lauren, the original symbol of the preppy lifestyle, combines Ivy League classics and all-American sporting looks with a tailored English sensibility. Casual, stylish, timeless clothing that appeals to men from generation to generation.
Ralph Lauren’s gracious style and iconic sensibility extends far beyond classic sportswear. Savvy, stylish, modern gentlemen know that Ralph Lauren’s made-to-measure collections, dedicated to the highest level of quality and elegance, are the ultimate expression of American sartorial splendor.
Suiting from Purple Label, Black Label, and Polo Ralph Lauren is created with time-honored techniques using luxurious natural fibers such as worsted wool, linen, and cashmere. A structured shoulder, for a more comfortable fit, and higher armholes, allowing for easy movement, combine with a flattering modern fit that never goes out of style.
Ralph Lauren Black Label features sophisticated, classic suiting with razor-sharp tailoring while combining dramatically lean silhouettes with a clean, modern attitude. Luxurious, stylish, and timeless, this collection, which is also available in made-to-measure, is sleek, bold, and masculine.
The Ralph Lauren Purple Label Sartorial Collection, new for Fall 2010, represents a return to the fine, meticulous craftsmanship of Savile Row. This group of dedicated artisans use an exclusive selection of the world’s finest fabrics and spend over 30 hours to individually cut and sew each garment by hand.
The Purple Label Made-to-Measure Collection offers impeccably handcrafted suits, trousers, sport coats, and topcoats in 250 luxurious, hand-selected fabrics, including cashmere blends and vicuña, the world’s most expensive fabric. Each custom-made suit is precisely measured for personal fit and hand-sewn by expert tailors in Italy. The garment takes up to eight weeks to complete, and prices range from $ 5,600 to $ 34,000.
Made to Measure Formalwear from Purple Label and Polo Ralph Lauren offer tailored silhouettes which include traditional, peaked, notched, and shawl lapels finished with grosgrain or satin. Ralph Lauren also offers collections of made-to-measure dress shirts and footwear, plus made-to-order silver and gold accessories and luggage.
In 1986, Ralph Lauren opened the historic Rhinelander Mansion on Madison Avenue as his flagship store.
Originally designed in the 1890s by Kimball & Thompson, this turn-of-the-century Manhattan architectural treasure has been remodeled and re-envisioned to exclusively showcase his menswear collections.
The first floor includes Purple Label and Polo haberdashery and a dramatic display of Ralph Lauren timepieces. The Beaux Arts interior of the second floor houses the complete world of Purple Label. The third floor is dedicated to Polo’s signature preppy heritage, while the sleek, modern sophistication of the Black Label Collection, with its mid-century furniture and styling, occupies the fourth.
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