Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ralph Lauren Gets It Wrong

The crest on a velvet jacket at Ralph Lauren's store in Boston a few days ago.

Polo Ralph Lauren was established in 1968*.  However, when they "borrowed" King Henry VIII's crest for one of their velvet jackets, someone got the banner wrong when they printed "MCMLXII". "1962"  
The crown is a hilarious touch.

Henry VIII's crest.

Fleur de Lis in threes and Leo in Trio.

For all the time and money they spend, they can't even come up with their own fake crests?  They have resorted to stealing those from the likes of Eton and others.  Emulating is one thing, but thievery is another... besides, I'm sure that Henry VIII would have been able to correctly write his Roman numerals. 

For the record, I rarely take crests seriously.


I have clothing with the little horse on it, and I don't really mind that small quantity.  

But "RL" on your slippers?  Your name better be "Randolph Lattersly" or something similar. Why not put his initials on your stationary as well, or just go all the way and legally change your name?  Maybe you're actually a descendant of Marco Polo, in which case, I'll shut my mouth.

*There are conflicting reports as to when the company was founded, possibly mincing the actual incorporation with the concept launch.  I go with the business documents that all say 1968.


  1. YWP, you have been in rare form lately. Well done sir. I am a HUGE fan of Ralph Lauren and have worn his clothing since I was in the 3rd grade (that's 32 years and counting). Like you, I don't mind the small pony...but, his freakin' initials on slippers or the "big pony" on shirts or the stupid crests...F that. You've gotta be kidding. It just gets so over done and the result is utterly contrived. Keep up the great posts.

  2. Aside from the "Big Pony" stuff, nothing annoys me like seeing gorgeous velvet slippers, priced several hundred dollars, with the RL initials on them. Anybody who wastes money on these must be oblivious to the likes of Stubbs & Wootton.

  3. The trouble with RL generally is that it's serving a wide variety of customers. The buyer of the $70 "Big Pony" polo is not likely the same customer as the buyer of the $1,000 blazer or the $400 cashmere sweater, who is in turn not the same customer as the $4,000 Purple Label suit buyer. These are distinct constituencies that likely don't wish to be aligned with each other. And there are wide substantive differences in quality and style even within the Polo line--Italian-made suiting of rather high quality and then Chinese polos of mall quality.

    I myself purchase all my cashmere from Polo. Very high quality for the money, logo-free, tons of color, and they always go on sale. But that's pretty much it--save a suit and blazer or two. What Polo does well, it does well. But yes, the faux crests and big logos don't do it for me.

  4. ...but how else are people going to know that you went to Ralph Lauren University? Or race at the Ralph Lauren Yacht Club?

  5. The Trad did a similar take last year on RL including service pins as lapel pins for his runway models. I doubt HRH is in shape to care at this point, but service medals as decoration cross some sort of a line with me.

  6. I like his clothes, but not the crested or huge POLO identified gear. The shirts are quite comfy and wear very well over time. Nice post!

  7. My thoughts on RL are similar. I can stomach the pony on the polo (Polo polo?) as there seems to be at least some precedent for some sort of logo in this position (e.g. Lacoste's croc, which I think is actually worse than a pony, or a Fred Perry wreath). But beyond this, on OCBDs and sweaters, the logo looks out of place. I've actually taken to buying the Create-Your-Own polos with tone-on-tone embroidery. Getting more expensive, but as noted above, Polo always goes on sale.

  8. I have one Big Pony shirt. It was new but marked down to the ridiculous price of like $4.99, so I went ahead and snapped it up. Being mesh and being Big Pony, it is actually probably the least worn of all my polos, one of which dates back to the eighties, and another which dates to the mid-nineties. I prefer interlock.

    I hate crested stuff unless it is the crest of one of my family branches or of an organisation I belong to (one of my clubs, fraternities, schools, etc), I refuse to wear it, made up or someone else's (unless, of course, I made it up!). I have a plethora of crests to choose from that I have legitimate tie to, why would I wear someone else's?

    On a related note, the Poole Crest, an actual physical representation of it in wood and plaster, was passed down from Poole to Sellman to Condon to Reed, mother to daughter, but I am an only child, so the crest will either need to go to my mother and then down to me, or to my uncle Jim and then to one of his daughters. Either way, it will, for the first time in something like 130 years, go to a male. We'll see.

  9. Ralph has borrowed an escutcheon (shield), not a crest. A crest sits atop the helmet in a coat of arms.

  10. @Anon 11:17, most people are not familiar enough with heraldry to know the difference, and so bringing in words like escutcheon won't be very helpful. When one speaks of a family or school crest, one is almost always discussing either the entire coat of arms or the escutcheon. The escutcheon is the most significant part of the coat of arms and the most recognisable. That Ralph only borrowed the "escutcheon" is really irrelevant, at least, in my opinion. The escutcheon makes the coat of arms.

  11. @Kionon. I get that, and I know that crest is easier to say and remember than escutcheon. I just thought that information might be of interest to some people.


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