Ralph Lauren is a fashion designer who needs no introduction. Famed for his ubiquitous label Polo Ralph Lauren conceived in 1967, Mr. Lauren has gone on to establish a swath of other Ralph Lauren labels, each with its own unique aesthetic.If you thought that Ralph Lauren’s clothing was all about embroidered polo horses, you couldn’t be more wrong. Here are all the labels that bear the Ralph Lauren name.
Polo Ralph Lauren
The label that started it all, Polo Ralph Lauren was forged in 1967 by Ralph Lauren in New York City. Born Ralph Lifshitz, the son of Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Belarus, Ralph changed his surname to Lauren at age 16. He studied business at Baruch College and worked in sales for Brooks Brothers before beginning to design neckties under the name Polo Ralph Lauren in ’67.
Polo Ralph Lauren, often referred to simply as ‘polo’, is Ralph Lauren as we know it. This brand creates clothing with a whole host of inspirations from prep/ivy league to sportswear, workwear, militaria, and almost everywhere in between.
It’s actually quite hard to find an article of clothing or accessory that Polo hasn’t made over the past 53 years. And Polo doesn’t stop at clothing—tableware, shower curtains, bed sheets—you name it, Ralph’s done it with his OG label.
The most ubiquitous form of Polo branding is the embroidered ‘polo horse’ which depicts a mounted polo player, an homage to the brand’s namesake. Other famous branding includes arced collegiate text spelling out ‘POLO’, and the ‘Polo bear’ series which has made a recent resurgence in demand and popularity.
The Polo bear branding is a collection of motifs featuring teddy bears in different outfits, such as tuxedos, sports gear, and even a full ivy-league getup.
Polo Ralph Lauren garments typically have a blue label with white or gold text. The manufacturing of Polo products is predominantly outsourced to countries like China and Indonesia.
Ralph Lauren Purple Label
Purple Label is the top-end Ralph Lauren label, and by far the most expensive. This label is home to the most premium Ralph Lauren products, made from superior materials and often in smaller runs. Purple Label was launched in 1994 as a premium men’s collection and specializes in luxurious, tailored apparel inspired by London’s esteemed Saville Row.
These days, Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label also produces refined and whimsical editions of some of the brands classic styles, like their iconic polo shirt or button-down shirt.
Purple Label tends to have minimal or no branding, often using an alternative Polo Horse motif instead of the classic embroidered version. With quality and attention to detail in mind, Purple Label products are often crafted in Italy by fine suitmakers and tailors.
RRL is Ralph Lauren’s venture in the world of heritage workwear and Americana style. Focussing on creating high-quality pieces that are steeped in history, RRL is naturally centered around denim, allowing the brand to resonate with vintage lovers and the raw denim community alike.
In 1993, Ralph Lauren created RRL to channel his Americana obsession. With the American countryside of his idyllic Colorado ranch as his stimulus, Ralph Lauren looked to the workwear worn by the gold rush miners and ranch hands of the mid-to late-1800s as well as the military garb of the American Civil War and World Wars, to inspire his new, rugged label.
Pronounced ‘double-R-L’, RRL produces a wide range of vintage-inspired clothing, spanning from tassel-ridden suede jackets and bohemian blanket—to officer chinos and tube-knit t-shirts—and almost everything in between.
The brand is committed to creating accurate reproductions by using carefully selected fabrics and hardware, and laborious construction methods. By tweaking fits and silhouettes ever-so-slightly, RRL manages to breathe a new lease of life into these reproductions, allowing them to slot into the modern wardrobe with ease.
Selvedge denim is a key element of the RRL label. The material used to craft RRL’s raw denim jeans and jackets is the label’s custom ‘East-West denim’, a fabric meticulously created to mirror the denim of the early 1900s.
Despite its Americana inspirations, a large portion of RRL’s production is outsourced to China and Portugal. Quality, however, is generally solid and some products are handmade in America.
RLX was established in 1998 as a diffusion of the Polo Sport label. Focused on products for a range of sports like running, snowboarding, skiing, and climbing, RLX flaunted even more technical options than those already offered by the Polo Sport label. Due to the technical aspect of the label, RLX earned a cult following among existing Polo collectors.
RLX jackets were especially forward thinking with multiple pockets, waterproof and lightweight fabrics, mesh linings and foldable constructions. This provided Ralph Lauren with the products to compete with the likes of The North Face, whose technical Steep Tech Range was hugely popular in the 90s.
Since the early 2010s, however, RLX has taken a bit of a back seat. After initially appearing under the Polo Sport Label, RLX began releasing its own independent collections for many years. But in recent years, RLX has fallen back to its original set-up of appearing mainly under other, existing Polo labels as capsule collections.
This only applies to the most technical RLX offerings, though, with Ralph Lauren adding another diffusion to the RLX story in RLX Golf.
Golf Labels – Polo Golf & RLX Golf
Synonymous with Ralph Lauren’s preppy clothing are gentry sports like polo, rugby, and golf. This has seen Lauren form multiple labels over the years to cater to his golfing customers. These days, we have Polo Golf and RLX Golf.
Polo Golf focuses on more formal golf wear like trousers, crisp polo shirts, and fine knits. RLX Golf is a more functional label that produces more technical golf wear that provides traction, temperature control, and weather resistance.
Lauren Ralph Lauren
A lower end diffusion line, Lauren Ralph Lauren is only offered at department stores and Ralph Lauren outlet stores. It produces a similar range to blue label Polo clothing ranging from formal office wear to casual, preppy gear. Lauren Ralph Lauren also offers bags and footwear.
Discontinued and Independent RL Lines
Founded in 1978, the Chaps brand was Ralph Lauren’s retaliation to the counterfeit market that was emerging across American fashion. Originally typified by big stripes, thick-knit jumpers, and large spell-out collegiate gear, you will often see a wealth of Chaps clothing in vintage stores due to its popularity in the 80s and early 90s.
Chaps remains a part of the Ralph Lauren Corporation, however, it is not sold by Ralph Lauren directly.
Essentially the precursor to RRL, Polo Country was Ralph Laurens’s first real venture into a sub-label devoted to rugged clothing inspired by the American outdoors.
Polo Country was not only influenced by the American West but also British country living, prompting the use of waxed cotton and tweed in addition to the heavily washed denim, corduroy, and moleskin.
Another label that you’re bound to see in vintage stores and consignments. Once its own label, Polo Sport branded products are now distributed through the Polo Ralph Lauren mainline on a capsule collection basis.
Polo Sport launched in 1992 as a line of activewear for sports and fitness. Its loud and garish designs with bold branding saw it become popular within youth and street culture. Products are all centered on modern sportswear with technical fabrics and designs, with other garments paying homage to the roots of athletic-chic, such as varsity jackets and collegiate, spell out motifs.
Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren
Denim & Supply was created in 2011, its range featuring denim items combined with military-style jackets and suits. The label’s rugged, often bohemian aesthetic often crossed into the realms of RRL. Denim & Supply often took classic Polo items and re-imagined them in distressed or military-inspired materials.
The brand used the iconography of the American flag on many of its garments and accessories, often using a tattered or torn patch or print on the article.
Despite making some interesting clothing and having an international presence of over 20 stores, Denim & Supply was discontinued in 2016 as Ralph Lauren looked to streamline its operation.
Ralph Lauren Black Label
Launched in 2005 and lasting just under a decade, Ralph Lauren Black Label acted as a mid-point between Polo Ralph Lauren and Purple Label. Featuring slimmer cuts and more luxurious and sophisticated finishes than most Polo product, Black Label offered more contemporary collections with a sleek, international edge.
Tailoring played a big part of the Black Label collections, with outerwear and more casual wear always complementing the more formal side of fashion.