The Closest You’ll Get to An RL Archive

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Many brands maintain archives. Doing so allows designers to not have to reinvent the wheel every season. LL Bean Signature, for example, is mostly just a youthful reworking of the LL Bean’s archive, which the company started some decades ago with old items they received from customers. Ralph Lauren also has an archive. It’s apparently located off-site in New Jersey, but access is so limited that few designers from the company are even allowed in. So, fat chance you or I will ever see photos of it pop up somewhere.

The closest we’ll get is this old issue of Free & Easy, which is dedicated to Ralph Lauren. There are interviews with the man himself and his family, some shots of his stores around the world, and a pretty awesome section on vintage things he’s collected over the years (lots of early 20th century military watches, leather jackets, and Navajo jewelry. A couple of old jeeps are thrown in for good measure).

The best part of the issue, however, is the section on vintage Ralph Lauren clothing. It mostly covers RRL and Polo, but there are also some examples of things that came out of the now-defunct lines of Polo Country and Polo Western. I tend to roll my eyes nowadays whenever someone writes about “timeless style,” but for a fashion brand, it’s amazing how little Ralph Lauren has changed over the years. We’re looking at about three decades worth of design history here. 

If you’re interested in the issue, there are some copies left on Amazon. Many thanks to NorCal_1 for tipping me off to it. 


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