The ‘90s seem to have come back, with Elle Italia doing a fashion spread on the decade and Hedi Slimane designing this year’s Saint Laurent Paris collections around grunge. While I admit to liking the rock revival, my mind has been drifting to more familiar territory. Namely, ’90s Ralph Lauren.
Unfortunately, everything Ralph Lauren designed twenty years ago fits like a sail, which means it’s all unwearable unless you have a size 42 chest or larger. I did, however, recently manage to pick up this shirt, which is re-release of an Indian head chambray he made long ago. This time, however, the cut is much slimmer (a bit more like the “custom fit” shirts in his modern Polo label), so on really hot days, when the temperatures are too high for a jacket, I’ve been wearing it open with a white Barns t-shirt, Oak Street Bootmakers chukkas, and 3sixteen jeans. It’s probably my favorite casual shirt as of late, if only for nostalgic reasons.
Many have commented on Ralph Lauren’s success in offering clothes at every price point – from $5,000 Italian-made jackets to $20 Chinese-made polos. Less recognized, I think, is his ability to use his brand as a sort of “incubator,” with lines rising and falling with the times. In the ’90s for example, you had Ralph Lauren Country and Polo Sport, neither of which really survived past the decade (although Polo Sport somewhat continues as a generic “aqua-scented” cologne). Why Ralph Lauren Country was discontinued, and Polo Sport replaced with RLX, I’ll never understand, but it’s interesting to see that whenever one of his sub-labels closes, his umbrella brand and mainline Polo label remain untarnished.
What I wouldn’t give though, to have some more re-releases. You can find some of these originals on eBay if you search around for the right terms (try “Ralph Lauren Polo Country” and “Ralph Lauren Sportsman”). If only the cuts were slimmer …