RL Black Label to merge with Purple Label

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by vida, Apr 28, 2015.

  1. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I never felt a desire to try any Black Label clothing. It was all sort of like something else, plain, but with a stylish trim cut. But so what? Give me a reason to WANT it. PL on the other hand has, as others have pointed out, always pushed the envelope a bit. It is either a big hit or a big miss IMO. But when they hit it, I love it.

    RRL, is the odd member of the family. All of the other looks and brands mix and match. You can grow up wearing one and then blend into the next. Not so much with RRL. I've been a fan of it since it's early days and Ralph Lauren Polo Country before that. These sub brands are good for building the romance of the RL lifestyle, but they are unique. SInce PRL is a publicly traded company, the bottom line and performance is key. The next time we have a recession you will see big adjustments in companies like Polo. Not sure RRL will make it. In the mean time I will enjoy it. As I did Polo Country in its heyday.
     


  2. md2010

    md2010 Senior member

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    ^^very true. Massive restructuring going on at RL. A lot of PRL stuff are borrowed from Rugby. Even the new bright blue / yellow logo. Sweaters, veracity jackets. The Indian logo on few items are give away- straight from Rugby. Polo now also offers extra small and lowere priced tailored clothing - all pointing towards a mixture of Rugby and PRL . So once they close RLBL they can definitely mix the line into RLPL. Just have to wait and see. But quality and price something gotta give. The rubbish line denim supply was never given any attention by RL . But they can combine this with RRL.
    I am just not happy to see the decline in quality of their PRL .
     


  3. BaronFizzwell

    BaronFizzwell Senior member

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    Lee Norwood has apparently gone over to Polo creatively, so that actually makes sense, and yeah, the logo colours are a very clear sign. It's almost like the original target market for Rugby is assumed to be of the Polo buying age now, so are being targeted by this change. Unfortunately the same can't be said about the cuts, quality or pricing for that level of quality (no Caruso suits - although the last lot of Rugby suits weren't Caruso, to be fair).

    While I see so many parallels between Rugby and the new type of Polo, there's something about Polo that just puts me off. I just think of middle aged dads wearing polo shirts, and no campaigns showing "hip young people" shopping for vinyl records would change that. If anything, the imagery of these people shopping for vinyl records seemed really desperate, as if they were conceived by those same middle aged polo shirt wearing dads. I'm a sucker for Ralph Lauren advertising, admittedly, and even though I'm well out of University, I still connected with the Rugby advertising (and am a sitting duck for RRL imagery), but not so for anything related to Polo ...

    I was amused to see that the skull and crossbones motif that was so prevalent with Rugby has also made its way to the children's line, like with their slippers. I had the last ever pair of benchmade Rugby slippers sold on the site, and sold them on Ebay recently. I wasn't keen to keep them after that hahaha.
     


  4. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    I go back and forth regarding RRL. While it doesn't seamlessly blend, perhaps the target customer for PL and BL is a bit more nuanced than we typically think. When the guy buying a $5k suit says "show me the best jeans/flannel you have" he may truly want a totally different look than his suiting style. In that case, RRL makes way more sense than the denim offered in BL. If you think about it, isn't part of the lifestyle seeming "worldly" and sophisticated, in which case perceived "authenticity" is important.
     


  5. BaronFizzwell

    BaronFizzwell Senior member

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    Yeah, RRL fits into their group of luxury lines, because the authenticity is more than skin deep with a lot of the products too, but in a very odd way. The value is different to what is not so readily perceived by "fashionistas". I mean we know this, because we care, but if I walked into my local Prada shop wearing a RRL outfit, complete with Bowery Boots and a limited edition jacket that cost too much, I guarantee you I would be treated differently than if were wearing a Black Label outfit that possibly cost less. That's actually part of the appeal, but I'm getting off topic of why I'm posting this.

    For RRL not going away: We're told that this is Ralph Lauren's personal brand, his own hobby, that he himself wears, and that he loves the historical aspect of it.

    For RRL not being as rock solid as some think: Ralph Lauren is a media/marketing company, first and foremost. The company sells concepts and ideals and will make up whatever horse shit is necessary to keep the share price up. I drink the Kool Aid when it comes to RRL, as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is Julien Landa), but I'm well aware that I'm being played, like the John who suspends his disbelief that the hooker isn't really into him.

    RRL's popularity is bigger than ever now because for the last few years, and leaking into the mainstream now with the lumbersexuals, it seems every guy from Williamsburg has been dressing like they're an extra from There Will Be Blood. Ralph (or David and the team) seem to know when these things are going to end, and smell the first rats leaving the ship long before anyone else, so I would not be surprised if RRL disappeared overnight.

    Look what happened to Rugby. They created an entire cultural ecosystem with that brand, while the preppy thing was popular. They then pulled it without emotion or fanfare. Make no mistake, no matter how much the RRL store on Melrose looks like part of the landscape, if it starts not being financially viable, they will gut every RRL store around the country and replace them with a Club Monaco, or whatever else makes sense.

    And since we're on the topic, same goes for Purple Label and Black Label. Sometimes being a fan of this brand overall is like being a Star Wars nerd, for whom Denim and Supply, RLX or Polo are the prequels, but then nobody could argue with the profits from those things either ...
     


  6. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    From everything that I've read, Polo makes its profits from very regular stuff - polo shirts, T shirts, underwear, and by selling these into very ordinary large department stores and outlet malls. The Purple Label and RRL brands as well as showcases like the Mansion on Madison Avenue in NYC, loose money and are there to add appeal and enhance the perception of the RL lifestyle. I think it is remarkable how PRL has been able to continue its mainstream popularity. What an amazing accomplishment. Almost all of the major fashion brands go in and out of mainstream appeal. But RL keeps growing.

    It is interesting to see the evolution of RRL from more old west to depression era WPA and WWII. Pretty soon it will run out of decades to emulate.

    As someone who has had a long-term business built on responding to lifestyle trends, I'm baffled by what the next "act" will be for the RRL look. Perhaps it will circle back to Southwest/Colorado ranch? But the Urban Lumberjack and Tailored 30's style doesn't seem to have much more mileage. Most of all, I don't see much younger guys joining that look.

    Early 70's California surfer style could be an excellent next step. But all of this is just me speculating. I certainly have no magic inside insight into the dealings of Ralph & Co.
     


  7. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    What about the 50s beatnik style? That seems ugly and cliche enough to attract big brands.
     


  8. BackInTheJox

    BackInTheJox Senior member

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    So is the new RL Sport line basically just RLX rebranded?
     


  9. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    Looks like it. Which I have a hard time grasping, since "Polo Sport" was/is already a brand but is nothing like the athletic wear featured in the new line. The old stuff was mostly collared shirts, windbreakers and golf shorts, if I recall. Guess it's just a matter of consolidating lots of stuff under the Polo name.
     


  10. mobobs

    mobobs Senior member

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    I disagree. Customer don't "ignore" a lower line. Quality suits can be had for a lot less than $5K. People who buy RLPL definitely take pride in the exclusivity of the brand. The same holds true for all brand names. When Armani started making diffusion lines it affected his mainline sales. The same goes for many other brands that tried it. Armani just doesn't have the same exclusivity like Guccci, which never made a diffusion line. RL was able to juggle 3 lines (or 4 if you count the licensed goods he doesn't even design) by making distinct labels.
     


  11. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It has really come full circle, hasn't it?

    Polo Sport was launched and had it's own store on Madison right across from the Mansion (around 1990?). The story I heard was that RL was caught off guard and really shaken up when Tommy Hilfiger was suddenly adopted by the emerging cool, young, hip-hop audience and even outsiders were beginning to question if RL could keep Polo relevant to the next generation and capture any of the urban audience (as TH had done so well). So, they launched Polo Sport. It was a nice line that had an updated look and was ideal for weekend athletes. It then morphed into more vintage inspired products like vintage style tennis sweaters, etc.(For a while an then unnamed RRL collection of denim and vintage was being shown in a portion of the Polo Sport building). Then Polo Sport suddenly shifted gears and adopted a more technical look and style to it and rebranded it RLX.

    I thought RLX had some great stuff. It also had a lot of odd things. I never knew who bought things like bright orange nylon technical pants??? RLX seemed to be available at very few locations.

    So reverting back to a more sportswear/leisurewear oriented Polo Sport might offer a greater audience. And they can drop Polo Golf and place it under Polo Sport.

    This is, of course, all speculation. But it is always interesting to see where RL goes next.
     


  12. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    I think success here comes down to having salespeople who are able to effectively communicate to that $5k suit customer why they are still purchasing something very exclusive. The fact that far fewer retailers sell RL than Armani doesn't hurt, either. At the end of the day, if the customer understands what makes the $5k suit different from the $2k suit, all will be well, and I'd wager that more PL customers fall into this category than Armani customers.
     


  13. BaronFizzwell

    BaronFizzwell Senior member

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    Hmmmm, maybe, remember outside of Styleforum and true Ralph Lauren enthusiasts, the general public only thinks of those awful Polo shirts with the horse on them when somebody says the name Ralph Lauren.

    I know my country is full of hicks, so that might be a factor, but down here, the only Ralph Lauren store was a Polo one. That - along with the idiotic Big Pony polo shirts - was being touted as the source for the height of luxury. I was also told that that entire store was a loss leader, and only placed there as a branding exercise to keep the whole brand in the public's consciousness. You try suggesting a customer at one of those stores to buy a Purple Label suit and they'd not see the value, and go "A Ralph Lauren suit should only cost NZ$3000 (for a Polo one). But if you said "Armani", they'd go "Yeah, that's the big fancy fashion label that costs thousands."

    I'm talking from the point of view of migrating Polo customers upwards to Black or Purple Labels, mind you, not bringing fans of fine suiting in general over to the brand. I'm not sure how that even would work.

    To me, the Rugby scheme seemed like a good one. Get young or young thinking customers hooked with a lower priced, but eccentric, brand like Rugby, manufacture the product at the same place like Caruso, so they wouldn't put up with lower quality, then cut the line. Those guys aren't moving across to Polo because it's too bland by comparison, they're going to look for something else with personality amongst the Ralph Lauren lines, and move to RRL or Purple Label ... That's what I did anyway. It's like having a nice cheap apartment at a nice part of town, then being told the building's been sold, but if you pay more, you can stay in the neighbourhood (or move down to the slum called Denim and Supply, which they actually suggested to those on the Rugby mailing list.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015


  14. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    Actually, I think you and I are largely saying the same thing. Brand whores bought Armani suits "because it's Armani" (even though others like Canali, Zegna, Belvest make a better $3k suit) and they associate the name with "the best" suits. Nobody makes that association with RL and tailored clothing because of that little (but growing) horse - it's considered "luxury" sportswear when shopping for $100 shirts, not $5k suits. So, it'll be those RL/general men's clothing enthusiasts who choose those (whether for the hand tailoring, style or diversity of materials) and what they will seek is reassurance that the $5k suits are no less than they've always been just because a $2k line has been added. It's not like the Armani guys who think "Wait, they sell these at Bloomingdale's now?! Time to move on".
     


  15. DavidKong

    DavidKong Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    May I know if current Polo Ralph Lauren suit still worth to buy for the price they charge?(what about on sale) ? I think they are not even half-canvassed.
    Is there any difference in quality between made by Corneliani in Italy and Slovakia(current lines) ?

    All replies are welcome.

    Thank you in advance
     


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