New Arrivals at Ralph Lauren Rugby

Rugby’s new arrivals for FW11 are in and it looks like they’re back with their version of the shaggy dog - a heavily brushed shetland sweater that has a raised, fuzzy nap. This iconic sweater was invented by Irving Press, one of the early owners of J. Press and an important innovator of classic American menswear. He’s credited with inventing not only the shaggy dog sweater, but other signature American pieces such as the flap-pocket oxford and 3/2 roll sack suit. 

When the sweater was first invented, Irving Press had them hand-knit in Scotland by Drumohr, one of the best sweater producers in the world. Unfortunately, Drumohr eventually went out of business, like so many other companies with more traditional manufacturing techniques, and now the sweaters are made by Scottish companies with modern machine technologies. In fact, while you can find shaggy dog sweaters now at J. Press, The Andover Shop, and Cable Car Clothiers, I suspect they’re all made by Laurence Odie (but of course can’t be sure). 

So with so many retailers for this sweater, especially ones with more “heritage credibility,” why go with Rugby’s made in China stuff? Simply because the price is cheaper and fit is better. The trad shops’ versions are quite baggy and run anywhere from $125 to $150. Rugby’s version, on the other hand, fits nice and trim and costs $98. If you wait until they have their Friends and Family sale (Oct/ Nov), you can even nab one for about $55. Plus, they have suede elbow patches, a detail that I always like for fall and winter. Their “off-beat” colors aren’t as charming as J Press’ versions, but they still carry the staples. If you’re thinking of buying your first one, I recommend navy, grey, or camel. 

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