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Polo rrl line

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know anything about Polo's RRL line?  I've never run across it in stores.  The only thing I was able to find out is that it is a vintage-inspired line that was launched in the early 1990s and subsequently flopped.
post #2 of 5
The RRL boutique is located around the block from where I used to live in SoHo (NoLita actually). It's really cool, and definatly worth a visit if you're in NYC. The clothes are vintage/cowboy inspired. Some of the best stuff put out under the Ralph Lauren name imo. A few of the pieces aren't even manufatured by RL, they are real vintage pieces sold along side everything else; albiet at statospheric prices. For the most part they are belts and leather jackets. The line is priced almost as high as Purple Label. Jeans at $200+.
post #3 of 5
It's an interesting line, lots of Wild West-inspired type items, much different than the typical preppie Polo stuff (and much more expensive). I have a great pair of RRL slim fit jeans I got off of polo.com. I don't think its the same line that was introduced in the early 90s and then discontinued - I have a vague memory of that line but I don't think it was RRL. However, I don't know how committed PRL is to keeping the current RRL line going - I notice there is no longer any RRL stuff on the polo.com web site. There is also a ton of men's RRL stuff on bluefly.com right now at attractive prices.
post #4 of 5
The first double R, L line was about 1991 or '92 and was mostly a jeans line. Jeans was something that Ralph had not had much success with until then. It's named for Ralph and Ricki (his wife) Lauren.. Polo Jeans Co replaced it for a while in the late 90's, but it does come back from time to time. Andy
post #5 of 5

RRL is a vintage themed line.  In the 90s, RRL was part vintage western wear, part grunge.  I actually remember the line being sold in stores and then later discounters such as the now defunct Value City.  These days you can still purchase RRL at the Polo Company Stores that exist in outlet malls and official Polo Ralph Lauren stores.  There are also stores that sell RRL exclusively, but I am not sure if these are official PRL stores or just independent retailers that specialize in the label.

 

Features of the label include clothing without any logos and tags designed to specifications of vintage wear.  RRL is primarily an early twentieth century label specializing in clothing no later then the 1950s.  The idea is to invoke an anti-designer feeling reminiscent of clothing that was sold in America at a time when clothing was actually produced on site and store labels were the norm.  This is long before clothing designers were popularized in the 1960s and 1970s; PRL itself being one of those labels to come about in 1967.

 

The ideal was brilliant; create a line that celebrates anti-fashionable clothing that existed before PRL was incorporated and pass it off as your own.  Create clothing that looks vintage, but is merely designed to those same standards.  I seriously doubt that any of the clothing sold through RRL is actually vintage, and I would not put it past PRL's marketing team to suggest that RL traveled the world, collecting clothing, and resold it underneath the RRL label.  PRL had a very slick, unusually sophisticated marketing strategy back then.  These days PRL sells off of reputation, but back then they were in full force.  If I am not mistaken 1993 was the best year for PRL, in terms of profits and revenue, and PRL was everywhere, you couldn't get away from it.

 

The 90s was a renaissance period for vintage, and RRL tried to anticipate the grunge trend but failed miserably, along with Marc Jacobs.  Actors like Tom Hanks were wearing RRL on the cover or GQ, among other things.  Tyson Beckford may have even wore RRL in print advertisements, and I remember that PRL had the first five pages in GQ every month I can remember.

 

The only thing that broke up PRL's "undefeated" presence in American fashion was the European invasion of the late 90s, when Tom Ford reinvented Gucci and labels like Prada, Dior and YSL were back in style.  If you were poor, perhaps you could afford Hugo Boss or Zegna.  American men eventually realized that they were too fat to pull off the look, and a lot of men returned to American fashion around 2005.  By then Tom Ford had went off on his own, RRL has all but forgotten, and PRL was passed onto a new generation that was rediscovering it all over again.  Personally, I think that my generation experienced the best of PRL; 90s PRL had the most aggressive designs, particularly when it came to plaid, and was the most imaginative.  Each new wave of PRL seems to be worse than the one before though; the oversized logos of PRL I really hated, but then again, my generation had Polo Sport and Polo Jeans Company, both of which were absolute garbage, but you could not tell us anything back then!  

 

RRL has evolved beyond denim and western wear to include other designs, such as blue collar, factory, fashions.  It is hard to believe, but American fashion was quite narrow back then, so I doubt that you will ever see RRL evolve into anything offered through Polo, Black Label, or Purple Label.  PRL has a reputation for cutting back on its quality when times are good, and then stepping up their game when it is not quite as popular.  That has been my personal experience.  I also saw the price of PRL rise from say, $55 for a button down casual shirt, to $67, to now $98, in less than 10 years; some of this could be inflation but I think the fact that PRL was commanding top dollar in the early nineties, and not so much in the early to mid eighties could have something to do with it.  RRL usually runs anywhere from twice to three times as much as PRL, due to manufacturing techniques, and the fact that it is not mass produced like PRL.  RRL is not sold in as many retail outlets, and PRL has kept inventory low, perhaps to artificially inflate the value, you know, sort of like what DeBeer's does with diamonds.  IMHO RRL is not any better than PRL with respect to quality; if anything RRL is timeless, because it is difficult for the uninitiated to date, whereas anything PRL has to be from 1967 or later.  Good marketing techniques, but a lot of it backfired on PRL because other designers were doing the same thing as RL back then.  

 

To be completely honest, if you are looking for that level of distinction you might want to look beyond PRL to Brooks Brothers or J Press. which were the initial inspiration of PRL (RL used to work at Brooks Brothers) and not concern yourself with RRL so much, which is more of an experiment in marketing, than it is a true clothing line.  

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