Cognitive Dissonance: "Polo = Prole/hiphop/Outlet brand" vs. "Ralph Lauren/RLPL is not"

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Reevolving, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Alcibiades

    Alcibiades Senior member

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    I'll attempt to reply to this post seriously

    The "Ralph Lauren" brand is interesting. Everyone from urban youths (undoubtedly the target of the OP) to Ivy league preppies (RL polos with small horses are still a staple of the college set) to regular middle class folk (khakis, button down shirts or sweaters with polo horse, etc) to New York socialites (Black and Blue Label, RL "collection" items, etc) wear Ralph Lauren, and the brand means something positive to each demographic. Other brands have tried this and failed miserably (Tommy Hilfiger being the biggest example). Yet I also find that there is a lot of backlash to the brand (even on this site occasionally) which is odd when people go wild over stuff like J Crew every season over on SW&D because the brand is so widespread.

    I think the environment of the retail stores has a lot to do with ; the stores have basically remained the same even as RL has branched out, and they set the tone for the entire company. At the same time, even on the high end, the brand isnt seen as a "fashion" brand like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tom Ford, or whatever; it lacks fashion forwardness, which is actually a positive for a lot of the buyers of the various lines (you could argue RRL is in a way fashion forward, but not in a runway type of way). On the "low end," the stuff sold at department stores still looks better than comparable items and can be had at reasonable prices.

    Finally, I think RL stuff can be described as "affordable luxury" in all of the different segments he operates in. If you are a kid who wants a nice polo shirt, you can get one for Macy's on sale for $50 bucks. Your Nike shoes or whatever may cost $100 bucks, so the Polo isn't that expensive. If you are a college sorority girl and you want a cable knit sweater, you can get one for $200 bucks or something on sale, and it will be well made; i'm sure some other brand (whatever college girls wear nowadays) could cost a lot more. You can spend money on other stuff. If you are a dude who works in an office in Manhattan, you can buy some really nice brown cordovan wingtips to go with your suits (and maybe jeans) for $400 bucks pre tax on sale. The next level of shoes (Edward Green, Lobb, whatever) cost $1000 or more, All the more money for polo shirts for the weekend, RRL denim, whatever else you need (this basically describes me).

    Honestly it may just come down to the fact that everyone likes and respects Mr Lauren himself and what he claims to represent, and they don't mind associating themselves with the brand regardless of who else is wearing it, particularly given he provides so many types of looks.
     


  2. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    to add to the above, I think that a lot of it has to do with both 1) His uncanny ability to control his brand image, and 2) His ability to produce distinct identities for all of his brands. It's really remarkable. If I knew his method and had is instincts, of course, I'd be a lot richer.
     


  3. esq11

    esq11 New Member

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    Prior to browsing this forum, I had absolutely no idea that Ralph Lauren had higher end brands. My experience had been limited to the their department store and outlet store presence. I have had a few collared shirts and polos over the years.

    Upon seeing the frenzy here over their recent sale, I have taken a closer look at their offerings and am truly impressed by the Black & Purple Label lines, even the suits in the Polo line. I will almost certainly be going to the local Ralph Lauren store when I am ready to rebuild my shoddy wardrobe.
     


  4. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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    Welcome to StyleForum.
     


  5. daspianist

    daspianist Well-Known Member

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    This thread has full potentiality for flawless victory. :slayer:

    On topic, then:

    I regard Polo as a genius move by Ralph Lauren. He positioned it as a semi-diffusion line based on the (original) stylistic inspiration for his upper tier clothes, but filled its catalog with numerous design overlaps between Polo (especially for women), and the more prestigious Collection-type labels. No other label does this as successfully and seamlessly as Ralph Lauren (think Prada and Miu Miu, Dolce and Gabbana and the now defunct D&G), and in such a way that it actually creates value for brand. Sure, there are some ugly "Pleb" shoes that Polo makes - but its position has never been about being stylistically impeccable (which Purple Label aspires to), but rather reflects on the Polo brand's take on current trends and styles.

    We could already see Rugby emerging as another successful contender that, while being another diffusion line, enhances the brand value of Ralph Lauren.

    But yeah, those 99 percenters and their passé e-class saloons.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011


  6. Bounder

    Bounder Senior member

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    Actual polo players hate Ralph Lauren and would not be caught dead wearing his stuff, most especially not a Big Pony logo shirt at a polo match. Some particularly clueless spectators do wear Big Pony shirts, of course, but it is naff in the extreme.

    The only tasteful way to correctly utilize a Big Pony shirt is to wash your car, and by this I do not mean you should wear it, I mean you should buff the wax with it. Big Pony shirts, and giant logo clothing in general, is brand whoring run amok. Personally, I can't abide even small logos on polo shirts so I always get mine from Charles Tyrwhitt. Kent Wang has logoless shirts, too.


    First, the US POLO ASSN actually is the US Polo Association, the governing body in the U.S. for polo.

    Second, this is why people who actually play polo hate Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren has sued U.S. Polo numerous times over the last several decades in an effort to protect his exclusive right to use the word polo -- and any image or word even vaguely connected with polo -- on, well, anything. Ralph has won a few and lost a few. The ones he lost gave rise to the US POLO ASSN shirts that you dislike. The irony being, of course, that in a sense, the US Polo Association shirts are real and it is the Ralph Lauren shirts that are fake.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011


  7. jrd617

    jrd617 Senior member

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    Weird descriptions of the lines. :puzzled: :puzzled: :puzzled: :puzzled:

    From the man himself:

     


  8. Saturdays

    Saturdays Senior member

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    Congrats!



    Hmm Nacho seems to like Ralph stuff lol..

    And yes I know US POLO ASSN is the governing body of the sport in US. However they did not start making clothing until 1981, where as Ralph Lauren started his company in 1967 and shortly after the iconic Polo shirts were being sold. Its a strong word to use 'fake' since Ralph Lauren was the first designer to bring the 'Big Pony' / 'Big Logo' style on a Polo shirt, and after he did - then US POLO ASSN just rode the tailwind - that being said US POLO ASSN doesn't even make the clothing themselves, a third party company Jordache does. So of course Ralph Lauren would sue because they started making clothing after Ralph Lauren did, rode upon their success by making very similar clothing.
     


  9. Saturdays

    Saturdays Senior member

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    Yeah I see what he means, I don't think I said anything contrary - just combine what he said and what I said and I think it makes sense. He is talking about the clothing, I am talking about the market. Polo Ralph Lauren is still a heritage/icon line - and definitely preppy - but its built upon the culture around a sport. That is why we have started seeing more emphasis in marketing upon how the polos are a uniform for polo players.

    I guess I was being very frank with that. I stand behind what I say about Purple and Black Label - but I don't disagree with Ralph.
     


  10. GoldenTribe

    GoldenTribe Senior member

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    So SS12 is the end. News to me.

    As for the idiotic topic at hand, one of the busiest threads in MC is POLO RL Private Sale 10/27, which ought to put to bed any Reetarded notion that SF dismisses it outright as a "prole/hiphop/outlet brand."
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011


  11. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    Well said, Spoopy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011


  12. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I bet there are few people outside of this fora that knows there is any difference between any of the Ralph Lauren lines.
     


  13. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior member

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    I would guess that if you polled the average person on the street, they would think RLPL offers purple items. I don't think they get it.

    Btw, on a very similar vein, Johnnie Walker. Black label is cheap swill that many people buy, and yet blue label is revered by many (although not by me).
     


  14. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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    Congrats on 1,000 posts, Corbera. Glad to see you're finally in the senior ranks... :foo:
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011


  15. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    Cognitive dissonance, this phrase, it does not mean what Reevolving thinks it means.


    I see Polo as a vaguely aspiration brand that most anyone can afford. Frat boys love them, status conscious recent immigrants love them, and most everyone in between. They're still more or less viewed as a "luxury" to average people.

    What is probably damaging to the brand's perception is the Ralph and Lauren lines. They share the common brand name, but are basically the same quality as all the other junk at mall department stores. Most people (see: Ebay sellers) don't know the difference between Polo and the licensed junk.
     


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