Ralph Lauren: What to Buy & Not to Buy – Brand Review

Ralph Lauren: What to Buy & Not to Buy – Brand Review

Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
In today’s video, we discuss one of my favorite brands, Ralph Lauren, and what to
buy and what not to buy from them. Ralph Lauren is an iconic American clothing brand that was
founded in 1967 and today, is a seven billion dollar company. A lot of people
ask us “Well, what do you buy from this brand or what would you suggest we buy?”
So today, we focus on Ralph Lauren but before we do that, let’s briefly look at
the history of the brand. Ironically, it was founded by Ralph
Lifshitz who just decided that that was not so marketable and went with Ralph
Lauren. When he founded the company, he was 27 years old
and initially, he started with ties because he was working for a tie
manufacturer. Through the 60s, slim ties were en vogue and so Ralph Lauren decided to go
the opposite way and make very wide ties. What really propelled his brand is
when he had an in-store concept at Bloomingdale’s and that was the first
brand or person to be able to get that. He also had the first stand-alone single
designer store on Rodeo Drive and he was the first to win the Coty fashion award
twice. Followng ties, he launched a line of women’s shirts under the Polo brand
which became later synonymous with Ralph Lauren. A few years later in 1972, he
created the polo mesh shirt and it’s a hallmark
staple of the brand to this day. With this roaring success, Ralph Lauren was also
asked to design the wardrobes for the Great Gatsby at the time and Annie Hall.
They went public in 1997 and today has a bunch of sub-brands. So you have
Ralph Lauren collection, which is a women’s brand, you have Purple Label
which is their highest end brand, they used to have black label which was more
of a slimmer cut but I don’t think they have it anymore. They have, of course, polo
which is iconic and still around then they also have the double RL brand which
is more 1930s vintage inspired work wear but they also have suits that are quite
cool, they used to have like RL X and more like performance-based brands, I
don’t think they carry them anymore, they have Ralph Lauren home which is all about
home goods and really great for interior design if you like his style.
They also have sub brands like Chaps and Club Monaco which are under the Ralph
Lauren umbrella. You can also find fragrances from Ralph Lauren, as well as
the Ralph Lauren restaurants. I’ve only been to Chicago and Paris but both are
very nice. Ralph Lauren is a brand that has began so
popular that it’s often counterfeited. So if you buy used goods, beware that you
don’t get a fake. So what’s Ralph Lauren’s style? If I have to break it down, I would
say it’s preppy Americana but they do a really good job in using vintage
inspired patterns and garments and just tweaking them a little bit and putting
them back onto the market. They also do a good job in using different colors and
patterns and fabrics. Apart from that, there’s still one of those few lines
that offers a full range of men’s clothing and suits that is not just
plain gray and navy but they have Prince of Wales checks and nice stripes, they
have seersuckers, sometimes even bold Paisley, or velvet garments, and just over
all, it’s a brand that has the entire spectrum of a classic men’s wardrobe in
a ready-to-wear segment. First, before you go out and buy anything, keep in mind that
everything they sell has a very high retail ticket price. Often, it’s
discounted, especially at department stores, but even on their website. So, if
you don’t need it right away and it’s not something that you must have
immediately, it probably pays to wait because you’ll get a substantial
discount. So what are the things from Ralph Lauren you should buy? First of all,
I would say sweaters and sweater vests. Ralph Lauren is one of the few companies
that offers really an extremely wide range of knits; whether it’s a cable knit
or an aran sweater, maybe a fair isle, knit vest inspired style, they have cool wools,
they have cool styles with Shaw collars, cardigans, and really everything under
the sun. So if you’re in the market for any kind of cardigan, I suggest you check
them out. Also, check out the vintage polo sweaters. They can be really cool
things to have at a very low price. The second thing to look at is the double
RL brand. It’s not usually carried in department stores, they are usually
sold at specific stores; there’s a great one in New York, I think it’s their
flagship store. It’s mostly vintage Americana inspired work wear so lots of
denim, lots of more casual garments with vintage influences but their suits are
also very nice, they feature usually a nice belly and have this kind of vintage
feel to it but it’s not just distinctly 1930s that like is much slimmer and more
modern; so it’s just a cool kind of garment that is hard to be found
elsewhere. The next item I really like from Ralph Lauren is swimwear. Probably
my favorite swimwear items are from Ralph Lauren, they are usually in classic
patterns such as checks or they have like bold stripes and it’s very hard to
find a tasteful classically inspired pair of swim trunks from other brands.
The fourth item that Ralph Lauren does really well are overcoats. Probably the
most iconic piece is the Polo overcoat which works well with their name. It’s
kind of a camel hair coat and you’ve probably have seen an ad from them.
Ironically, it’s not sold on their website very often anymore so the best
chance to find it is vintage on eBay or other places. Be prepared to pay around
$1,000 for a polo coat even though it’s used but it’s a very nice garment and if
you find other overcoats, chances are they’re made with really cool details
out of really unusual fabrics. The fifth thing you should buy are vintage Polo
items. Today, Polo Ralph Lauren is much more commercialized. It’s mostly made in
Asia, however, in the 80s, things were made in the US or in Italy or in England and
oftentimes, to a higher standard; the yarns and the fabrics are better so
they’ve stood the test of time. So if you find something from the 80s or 90s that
you like and it goes with your style, don’t be afraid of buying it, it’s good
stuff. Good items in this area are corduroys or sweaters, ties, suits, or even
seersucker. The sixth thing Ralph Lauren does really well
and you should invest in are shorts. Men’s shorts or Bermuda shorts are
really great. To learn more about them you can head over to our shorts guide
here. but just in general, often they are vintage-inspired,
they offer bolder colors than other men’s brands, and they have little details such
as coin pockets or just a pattern like a real Indian cotton madras and to learn
more about that fabric please check out this guide here. The seventh item you
can buy with confidence from Ralph Lauren are dress shoes. In the past, they were
often manufactured in Italy. Today, their purple label shoe line is usually made
by Crockett & Jones, Edward Green or Graziano and Girling which are all high-end
British makers. They have a very good styling, they add the purple sole, and
while the retail price is quite high, if you find a markdown in store, at outlets,
or on eBay, they’re a very good buy. The eighth item you should invest in are purple label
suits and jackets. Back in the day, they were made in England by Chester Barrry
and crew and that’s the suit I’m wearing here right now. It’s really nice, it has a
very 30s inspired style with wide lapels, it’s tailored very softly so it’s
extremely comfortable just like a sweater and even though today, most of
purple label’s items are made in Italy and things have changed quite a bit,
they’re still at a high quality level and I recommend them. Usually, those
garments retail anywhere from $4,000-$6,000 or more. Now, I don’t
believe it’s worth the retail price but sometimes, you can score bargains on eBay
or on outlets. For example, this suit here cost me about two or three hundred
dollars, I think on eBay, way back in the day and to this day, it is the favorite
suit of my wife. They also offer a great range of dinner jackets in unusual
patterns and colors, as well as cuts. For example, double-breasted shawl collar
jackets and stuff you won’t easily find from other brands, especially not off the
rack. The ninth item to invest in are Ralph Lauren home goods. They have
anything from bed sheets to glasses to decorative items and while generally,
their stuff is not of the utmost quality, it is good quality and it is a superb
style, however, again, in a very high price point. So if you can find it
used somewhere or in a dead-stock, that’s the time to buy, unless, of course, you
really like it, it works with your room then just splurge on it and enjoy it.
The 10th item I think Ralph Lauren is great for are slacks. Especially, Polo has
a range of corduroys for the winter that are unusual, many different colors, they
also have great chinos in shades like Nantucket red or baby blue or just
regular sand or khaki and so any type of somewhat casual pant or medium formal
pair of slacks, Ralph Lauren is a great option for you. Apart from those, my
favorite items include a seersucker suit from Polo Ralph Lauren, a couple of suits
from Purple Label, my shorts for the warm summer months, as well as my vintage
sweaters. So with that being said, what should you
not buy from Ralph Lauren? As I mentioned, hardly anything is worth full price so
skip that. Also personally, I am not a big fan of their polo shirts anymore, I think
they’re priced quite high, they have bigger and bigger logos in their chests
that are very contrasting which I don’t like, and their collars are flimsy.
To check out more about polo shirts and what I prefer instead please head over to
the polo shirt guide here. The second thing I would avoid are dress shirts. In
my experience, the fit is often awkward, they also have like oxford shirts but
they have all the polo pony which is something I don’t like on a shirt, and on
top of that, they’re rather pricey so you’re better off going made-to-measure
somewhere else where you get exactly the fabric you
want in a color you want and in a fit that works for you. Also, stay clear of
anything that’s obnoxious with logos. There’s a tendency to have a super-huge
ponys on your clothing or the American flag or the polar bear and all of these
make you more look like a brand whore rather than a well dressed person. Yes,
you can be patriotic but when have you ever seen an American president wearing
a sweater with American flag? Never, right? Well, there’s a good reason, it’s just
obnoxious. Also, in my experience, stay clear of Ralph Lauren activewear with
wind proof stuff. I used to have a jacket way back in the day and it performed
very poorly especially compared to other brands that focus specifically on
outdoor stuff so I just stay clear of that altogether. Likewise, I’d stay clear
of their t-shirts because they’re simply overpriced and no one needs a
little pony on their t-shirt. I also think a lot of accessories that Ralph
Lauren offers, such as their leather goods, are simply not really super high
quality, they just have a high price tag. Other things though, like their pocket
squares or ties, are much better. Overall, I think all of the accessories just rely too
heavily on branding. For example, look at the polar bear quartz watch for $2,000. I
mean really? Also there was a time when I bought a lot of socks from them because
they were quite colorful but they often had their pony and they use a lot of
polyamide or nylon in their socks so looking back, it’s probably not something I would buy again.
So in summary, Ralph Lauren has a great range of products that you could buy
from them when things are in sale or if they’re vintage they’re exceptionally
good buys otherwise stay clear of some of the accessories some of their watches
even though their horseshoe watches are really really nice I don’t think
they’re worth $25,000. That being said, if you think they are go for it
enjoy them. Overall, I think Ralph Lauren is a fantastic brand. They did an exceptional
job in bringing kind of a classic English inspired Americana style to the
average man and for that I truly thank Ralph Lauren. in today’s video I am wearing of
course a Ralph Lauren suit it was my first high-end suit that I bough off eBay it
was made in England by Chester Barry it has this really cool power
style that is at the same time very soft to wear it’s a navy with a white rope
stripe combined it with a white shirt and double cuffs and a vintage Polo tie
which is brown it’s printed I think in Italy and made in Italy but it’s
just very tasteful and as you can see it is a wider tie because that’s what Ralph
Lauren used to do I think these days they’re more in line with what the
market produces but when they started they were super wide the pocket square
is also from Ralph Lauren it’s just a simple polka dot
Silke square my shoes are monk straps with a full brogue pattern which is a
style you often see from Ralph Lauren it’s usually classic but a little more
eclectic and unusual for cufflinks I only have one pair of Ralph Lauren which were
made in England out of enamel in turquoise and yellow and then it didn’t
work with the outfit so I chose the ones from Fort Belvedere with a carelian red
which go with my tie and my pocket square and you can find them in a shop
here if you enjoyed these videos I suggest you check out our series is it
worth it where we look at iconic garments and see if they’re worth your
money or not

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. How do you like this video format? More or less than https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/best-vintage-buys/ Would you like this to be turned into an ongoing series?

  2. GANT is the far superior version of Ralph Lauren (being nearly 20 years older as well). GANT jumpers and chinos last far longer than their RL counterpart.

  3. One of the things I love about RL is that they are one of the few better men's wear companies that doesn't forget the Big & Tall market.

  4. Your review on Ralph Lauren is completely your opinion, which is understandable from your personal sensibilities of fashion… Yet, you must acknowledge the RL brand wouldn't be where it is today without Hip Hop and the urban community in NYC

  5. I wear the American flag because I love it. I am proud of it. Not because it will remind of Ralph Lauren. And regarding the Polo Bear, for me that is the best trend that RL has. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's obnoxious!

  6. Looool t shirt are the best of what Ralph Lauren made. Your style isn't good for me you more classic and classic is not everyday wearing.

  7. I think the normal original polo shirts are the best ralph lauren has to offer. I’m not a big fan of the polos with this really thin cheap feeling material

  8. Nice video! I found it funny that you don’t like the polo pony on your garments. Hey, I get it. Personal preference. I will not buy anything that DOESNT have the logo visible 🤷🏾‍♂️

  9. Right on – maybe gave a bit more to the Purple Line then it deserves.. I have been buying RL since 1988. I sold a few vintage made in the USA that no longer fit. They were absolutely higher quality than any RL made today in China. The brand has really lowered its quality and I buy less. Marshals & TJ Maxx carry some items as RL stores but with a big discount. They are a mass market merchant but across the board quality has diminished both fabric and construction even though their price continue to rise.

  10. I believe that it's a gentleman's responsibility to consider his impact on the world around him. This responsibility extends to the environment and labor. Fine clothing is a perfect avenue for buying locally made and crafted articles, of which the providence is known and the economy benefited is your home, instead of extricating the lion's share of profit to far off corporate benefactors. These are the roots of wealth inequality which we can all affect.

    Even if Asian produced clothes conform to minimum labor standards of the Asian labor market, the products still need to be shipped halfway across the world using some of the dirtiest and most harmful transportation methods available.

    I've said it before. Less is more. Buy higher quality, locally crafted, and own less. Fewer clothes that are all your favorites and all suit you, instead of languishing in the cobwebs of your closet; wasted for all intents and purposes.

  11. I think the polo bear is cool.I think something with the polo bear are cool.I agree with you on everything else about the brand.

  12. Why you hating on the Bears and Ponies? Oh yeah I get it. You can't rock it right. You don't have the presence or personality! If you from Overtown, Liberty City, Brooklyn or the Bronx you know the flava.

  13. Some of the sub brands werent great. Rlx wasnt special. Polo is good, purple label, and the interior decor is nice. The suits… meh

  14. just recently picked up a leather wallet for $30CAD, its a pretty good secondary wallet or a good first wallet for people who don't care about wallets.

  15. Great advice! I like the polo bear, but i dont like polo branding either!.. i have 2 jackets one RLX the other RL. Both are down filled, one is a 6year old trench coat that kept me toasty in fairbanks, Alaska!. GREAT QUALITY. I think you got a bum deal if you had a bad polo jacket! Great Video!

  16. i used to work at a golf club, and polo was one of our sponsors… i remember one of the members from the club asked the polo rep who happened to be there which shirt did leo dicaprio wear in the iconic boat scene in "wolf of wall street". the guy responded, well it could be 1 of 18 shirts. 18 SHIRTS! meaning polo has 18 different types of plain white polos. crazy…. btw, their RLX (i have a bunch from working there) was amazing. cant believe they got rid of it. i hope not

    EDIT: they still exist. RLX is alive baby

  17. If their shoes are being made by the likes of Crockett and Jones and Gaziano and Girling, why would I buy it under the Ralph Lauren name, when I can just buy it for probably the same price or less, direct from the manufacturer? People in the know will have more respect for a pair of oxfords from Crockett and Jones than they will for a pair of oxfords made by Crockett and Jones under the Ralph Lauren brand name. It's like wearing a Patek Phillippe that says Casio on the dial, but costs the same amount of money as the same, real watch from Patek.

  18. I own items from every Ralph Lauren line. From purple label formal wear to big logo polo shirts. My polo bear crew neck sweater is a winner. Gets the most compliments, specifically from women. I think this one is a little subjective.

    Edit: well, everything except their shoes. I don't care for those.

  19. Great tips on R.L. Purchases. I just purchased three suit separates (jacket, vest, pants) from Macy’s on Black Friday sale. Just looking for light summer suits in gray, tan, and light blue. Wool/nylon and cotton/nylon blends in the ultra flex fabrics. Each three piece set was under $200 and in my size. While I would like to have a nice bespoke 180s Drago suit fashioned it is just not in my budget. Did I make a big mistake in buying the Lauren Ralph Lauren brand off the rack? thanks.

  20. Ralph Lauren's oxford shirts are really durable and comfortable, they will last for about 10 years! There is the logo, but I like it. Nice video!

  21. I paused this video and Googled ‘Ralph Lauren Purple Label’. I clicked a link to Mr. Porter and viewed a few of their offerings. One item that caught my eye was a cable-knit cashmere jumper in navy. It is priced at £975. I then look at the Johnstons of Elgin website, finding the exact same cable-knit style, in 4 ply, for £325. Nobody is telling me that the quality of the cashmere or the craftsmanship of the Johnstons of Elgin jumper is any less than the jumper from Ralph Lauren. If anything, it would be superior. Yet it is three times the price. Just think, you could buy three exquisite knitwear pieces for the same money that you would pay for one item from Ralph Lauren ‘Purple Label’.

  22. Great review. I agree w/ your perception of the quality. I recall a lot of items I had back in the 80's were better than today. I love the cashmere cables, polo mesh shirts, oxfords and belts. I will say I have not had good experiences w/ their shoes however not have purchased the Purple Label.
    I would like a review of Zegna which I am a fan of. Cheers.

  23. Gentleman's Gazette, I have sworn off Ralph Lauren… Cuffs on their knitwear and socks go so fast, I get to wear them once or twice. Even Gold Toe socks (at a fraction of the price) last me longer… Colors on their polo shirts fade sooo fast, especially in the armpit area. I have found that Banana Republic polo shirts last me much longer…. Their boxers are OK but they are more expensive than Hugo Boss so go figure…

  24. I agree with your observations . I would like a RL overcoat . I am a casual jacket man . Best shoes I ever bought was a pair of RL .

  25. I got the sweater with the polo bear toasting with a glass. I love it! And I think it's classy and cute since I work in a kindergarten! It takes balls to rock it, but with the right scarf, watch, pants, and jeans, it looks amazing in my opinion.

  26. I avoid buying anything from Ralph Lauren (new or used) as the quality is abysmal. That said, I like your ideas in regards to a few items, perhaps I will give it a try on eBay to see if the quality holds up.

  27. Excellent informative video. Great job. I always liked RL as its not super expensive and it offers fashion worth the money. Also great trips on how to avail discount. I agree on the sweaters as you first pick what to buy however for me its a close call between sweaters and their sports jackets. Suits are up there but not my first pick. The POLO Green cologne is a classic and a must have for men for its versatile use. Vintage- I am not fan of as I am not into used clothing. I had never thought about the overcoats but after this video I will look for one or two just to complete wardrobe- Shirts I have limited use as I do not wear shorts in routine. Only when I am traveling or when I am playing tennis but that is a whole different stuff. I personally do not want to spend more than 1500$ on a suit or a sports jacket.

  28. I don't know where your store is if there is one except online. I would definitely like to take you for a cup of coffee etc when I am in the US. You are a dying breed and we need to support you and people like you who know mens fashion a do whatever possible to keep men informed. Kind of reminds me of old barber shops which are disappearing and are replaced by hair salons OR very expensive barber shops in some fashion malls.

  29. Lol their big logo polos are actually what got me into Ralph Lauren. I like high contrast and some branding. Maybe for the younger crowd? 🙂

  30. His slacks are better than everybody else's. I have a 15 yesr old seer sucker that I love. Now the big logo stuff I love for clubbing and casual.

  31. Can't really agree on your opinion regarding RLX. It's their Golf Collection nowadays and features amazing fabrics at a very high quality. Apart from the fact that you can also wear some of the stuff on a daily basis as well. In fact more people actually complemented/asked about my jacket from RLX than they did with a classic Ralph Lauren jacket. Of course it's not your daily dosis of looking like a snob, but that doesn't mean it ain't an amazing brand line

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