We finally give our thoughts on the iconic American designer and the HBO Documentary about him in this latest entry of our podcast Style & Direction.
Brief Notes on the Doc
- We consider Ralph Lauren to be one of the best American designers.
- He has a few tiers and sub brands including:
- RRL: His reproduction vintage/workwear/western wear line
- Purple Label: His highest quality suits and dresses.
- Polo RL: Mainline brand. It also was his first label.
- Rugby RL: A now defunct prep-focused label.
- Lauren by RL: Lowest tier mainline brand, usually found in mall department stores.
- Denim & Supply: An early version of RRL, I believe.
- He was born Lifshitz, but his brothers later changed the last name as to not be teased anymore.
- Ralph always knew how he wanted to dress.
- He also grew up buying old clothes.
- One of his first activities as a newly wed was shopping for vintage.
- He never knew how to sew or sketch but he was able to convey his intentions to his makers.
- Ralph Lauren got started making ties and did not alter his style to cater to Bloomingdales.
- His style for suits and shirts were ahead of their time, being a good approximation of the late 1960s or early 1970s despite first coming out in the early to mid 1960s.
- His muse for designing womenswear is his wife.
- He was one of the first designers to have a standalone retail space that actually improved the market.
- He is inspired by classic films, not only in terms of style but by how he presents his brand.
- His early suits were very 70s does 30s, which is remarked upon in the documentary.
- He is especially hands on with the advertising.
- He also encourages backstory and characters, even for commercials.
- He was also noted to use more natural models rather than ones that were too glamorous or too focused on make up.
- Woody Allen’s inclusion in the doc was weird.
- He really epitomizes American style and removes the context behind it. In other words, he made WASP style accessible.
- The same goes for ‘Lo heads.
- He’s expanded into so many things (like furniture) because it’s all an extension of himself and his style.
- Overall, it’s a good documentary and you should watch it with your stylish friends.
Big thank you to MJ (for editing the podcast) and Matthew for transcribing our notes/quotes.
Q & A
Q by Seth: More for Spencer – I’m 24 with a quickly-receding hairline. When did you make the decision to go for broke and start shaving your head? Any tips for aspiring chrome-domes? Would also be interested in a broader discussion of haircare in menswear.
A: Spencer decided to do it gradually instead of all at once, just to remove any trace of regret. He first buzzed his head before finally shaving it! It simply depends on your comfort level, as others either do it gradually or go for the Phasma look immediately.
Ethan doesn’t put any product in his hair.
We don’t really know much about haircare in general, so it may not be worth a full discussion. But we’ll keep you updated!
Q by Aaron: How do you find a good tailor? I’ve tried different ones and no one seems to understand high rise, wide leg, no break but not cropped, etc.
A: If you’re talking about a custom tailor, don’t go to one like Indochino. You’ll have to go to someone who already has a model for high rise, like PJT or Drake’s. If you’re referring to a regular alterations tailor, we always say to find a specialized standalone tailor (not one at a dry cleaner) that has experience actually making suits. They will understand the terminology better, but just in case, bring pictures of what you want to look like. You don’t want to be vague at all when you get your alterations.