Director at DOCUMENT studios“He was looking at the people who built the American Dream.”
“Ralph Lauren is a true lifestyle brand. Not just in the sense that they make homewares and lifestyle goods, but in the sense that you want to live the ‘Ralph Lauren’ lifestyle. They’re an aspirational brand, but they’ve also created this image of what Ralph Lauren is—you can close your eyes and everyone sort of thinks of the same thing.
It’s more than any one piece of clothing. You take in the whole Ivy and Prep thing, all those connotations to a life you don’t lead, but want to. When you think of Hollywood, you think of glitz and glamor, silk tuxedos, but this was more than that. It was the hardworking laborer as well. The plaid shirts, the lumber jackets. It wasn’t workwear, but he was clearly looking at the people who built the American Dream. His wardrobe was very much inspired by that.
If you think about what’s happened during these last 50 years, that’s kind of when fashion became the expressive art-form that it is. Roughly before that, it was clothes; stuff you wore because you needed to wear something. When pop culture happened, clothing became affordable and people wanted to express themselves. Ralph Lauren didn’t necessarily start that, but he was part of that movement, giving people stuff they could buy to express who they are. That’s branding.
It’s a luxury brand. It’s aspirational. But those polo shirts are an affordable and easy way to bind yourself to the brand, similar to a perfume or a handbag. I think also, growing up in Europe, it’s quintessentially American. Whether you’re from the UK or Sweden, we’ve always been obsessed with American culture—food, music, film, and clothing. Next to the Marlboro Man, what represents that more than Ralph Lauren?”
As the comments above demonstrate, that the Ralph Lauren aesthetic depicts a particular way of life never stopped others from being able to enjoy it. Not only that, where other labels might have tried to wrangle their name out of the hands of customers they didn’t relate to, it feels like Ralph Lauren was always much more democratic. After all, if you’re going to be the menswear label of the everyman, it doesn’t make much sense if you can’t be worn by every man.
Ultimately, what shines through most about the legacy of Ralph Lauren as both a brand and a designer is the way he managed to synthesize so many distinctive looks into a cohesive style. In many ways, what the label has done since its launch 50 years ago is collate dozens of reference points from everyday life and represent them in an elevated form.
But more than anything else, the great skill of Ralph Lauren the designer is one that has been innate to every fashion great—an ability to look at disparate markers and concepts and create a singular thread that runs through them all. Cowboys, military men, rappers, country club members, Ivy League students, skateboarders, alpine explorers; all are united through their place in our collective consciousness, whether real and romanticized. The mythos of the American dream put to cloth.
Source : https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/ralph-lauren-brand-history/