Genuine Authentic

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by gregory, Oct 31, 2004.

  1. gregory

    gregory Senior member

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    Good evening, I just finished reading Michael Gross' Genuine Authentic: The real life of Ralph Lauren. Mr Gross lost the cooperation of Mr Lauren in the writing of the book, but I felt that he presented a balanced view of Mr Lauren. Some interesting tidbits: - The bulk of the money is made from polo knit shirts and chinos, most of them sold in factory outlets - The Rhinelander store in Manhattan and Purple Label items do not really make much money, if at all - Ralph Lauren is said to hire and fire based on looks, not on competence - Stores are said to hide their non-white employees in stockrooms when Ralph Lauren visits - Ralph Lauren is a perfectionist and unreasonably demanding of everyone - He couldn't decide which shade of cashmere curtains he wanted for one of his homes, so he had four made for his choosing Despite all the negative things said about him, I have enormous respect for him after reading the book. He is a person who had a rather depressing childhood, always the person outside looking in. He may be called a phony, pushing goods that assure the insecure, but so are the millions of people who buy his goods everyday. Besides, he cannot create a fashion empire based on Jewish style clothing. Which reminds me of what Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr Ripley said: "It's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody."
     
  2. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Unsurprising. Purple Label is there to provide cachet, not to make a profit. Nearly *all* of the fashion empires make most of their profits from frangances and accessories.

    From the book, RL seems like an asshole. And no, it would probably have been harder to sell "Jewish" style clothing, whatever that is. But the fact that he hides his heritage puts him down a more than just a few notches in my book.

    News flash: Tom Ripley was a pathetic, sociopathic figure.
     
  3. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    Are the knit polos sold in the outlets the same quality as those sold in other retail settings?
     
  4. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    In my experience they are the same ones exactly.
     
  5. gregory

    gregory Senior member

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    As a foreigner to this country, here is where I tend to emphathize with Ralph Lauren. How do you expect him to express his Jewishness in Polo Ralph Lauren? How do you expect an African-American, or a Hispanic, or an Asian to express their ethnic culture in the corporate boardroom scheme, where the defacto and prized culture is the WASP culture?

    Even the standard corporate dress code in America if not the world is very much a Western thing. The Chinese in China and the Indians in India do not have the option of wearing their traditional garb to their offices.

    Through the world, one learns the inferiority of one's culture and the supremacy of Western culture. Why else would clothing ads worldwide, rather then being tailored to the local population, always feature same type of people.

    The Western/American/WASP image is the global image of success and sex appeal, not only in America but in the world.
     
  6. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    Well, there have been African Americans who have embraced their heritage, and worn clothing that is not ashamed of their past. So, it would be possible to build an empire that didn't seek to hide your ethnic heritage.

    What will happen in 20+ years if China becomes the world power that so many people expect it to be? Will we start wearing mandarin power suits to the office?
     
  7. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    I already do. Every day. I get them from the International Male.
     
  8. gregory

    gregory Senior member

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    Ralph Lauren is selling all-American goods, there is no way he can incorporate his ethnic heritage into the picture.

    And let me ask you: Do you think that if he didn't do what he did and romanticize the whole WASP image that he would achieve the kind of success he would today?

    Are you thinking about FUBU? Just try naming me any ethnic clothing line based on an ethnic heritage other than that of WASP that you would find acceptable to be worn the office, or the museum, or the opera, or even one which have been mentioned in StyleForum.
     
  9. gregory

    gregory Senior member

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    One thing that terribly annoys me is that people say "Be proud of yourself. Be yourself." Well that's easy to say when your own culture is one which is celebrated worldwide.

    Have you seen Jewish CEOs who put on their yankee caps? (pardon my spelling if I am incorrect. It's hard enough for minorities every day to be judged on the same playing field, the last thing they need is to wear clothing that differentiated them more. And yes, as much as I hate to say this, clothing that WASPifies minorities and denies their culture does give them a better chance of fitting in and being accepted.
     
  10. gorgekko

    gorgekko Senior member

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    The Western/American/WASP image is the global image of success and sex appeal, not only in America but in the world. At the risk of being attacked by the politically correct corps, I would suggest there is a good reason for that: America and the west are successful and sexy. Thoughout history cultures (and sub-cultures within cultures) have met in competition and they have either survived or they have died. I find nothing wrong with that. If more people found the Chinese or Indian or <FILL IN NAME> cultures valid to their way of life they would adopt those customs. I have my own ethnic culture from Eastern Europe and it's a culture not likely to gain adherents outside of its cultural circle. In fact, I would expect that most are more interested in Western culture then they are of theirs. Doesn't bother me in the slightest.
     
  11. Sevcom

    Sevcom Senior member

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    Hamid Karzai and some Saudi princes seem completely comfortable conducting business in their native dress, as do some African dignitaries when they stop by the United Nations.

    And I'd have no problem if an African wanted to go to the museum or the opera wearing a dashiki, or a Filipino with a barong tagalog.
     
  12. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    Discussions of &quot;heritage&quot; and &quot;cultural supremacy&quot; are often somewhat mystifying to me.

    (a) Whose &quot;fault&quot; is it, after all, that citizens of other countries adopt American clothing, food, pop music? And if foreigners are grief-stricken that their children prefer hot dogs or rock and roll to Gounod and cassoulet, why don't they come up with something more appealing?

    (b) One more time: From the start, a central ingredient in the American experience has been self-reinvention--often, casting off one's old identity in the process. To Ralph I say, &quot;Keep doing what you're doing.&quot; [Pause for effect] &quot;Just do it a damnsight better.&quot;
     
  13. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Sounds like an old Chinese saying, that whoever conquers China becomes Chinese.  But, ignoring the flamebait, my point was not that I begrudge Ralph Lauren for building a fashion empire built on selling WASP culture, but that I despise that RL himself seems ashamed of his Jewish roots. IMO, your parents gave you a name, and you should be proud of it. Tom Ford sold Gucci without ever denying or trying to hide his Texas roots. David Chu heads up Nautica.
     
  14. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    That said, I feel impelled to add a rhetorial question. Why wasn't the book entitled &quot;Genuine Synthetic&quot;? (As in, &quot;Step right up, folks. Be the first on your block to own a bewitching string of these absolutely genu-ine synthetic pearls.&quot;)
     
  15. FIHTies

    FIHTies Senior member Affiliate Vendor

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    Yes...Yankee Caps was supposed to mean Yarmulkas (correct spelling. Why do I have this deja Vu about this topic? http://www.styleforum.net/cgi-bin....ate+him [​IMG] JJF
     

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