For a while now I’ve had my eye on what I find to be, the peculiar offshoot brand of Ralph Lauren ‘Rugby’.
Why peculiar? Well … Ralph Lauren is quintessentially an American household name, born and bred in the land of the brave and the free.
And rugby? Ah, that’s an entrenched British tradition, in actual fact it’s the the English public school “right of passage” mechanism.
Rugby in America? That just doesn’t 100% compute. Having travelled the breadth of both countries I can say the closest most Americans have come to this ancient establishment sport, is by dobbing the small percentage of enthusiasts, most of them immigrants from former British colonies, ‘rugger buggers’. Go figure.
Anyway … perhaps spotting the lack of enthusiasm for the sport in the States (there are several semi-professional teams in the U.S., but the chances of making a living on one are slim), or perhaps seeing an opportunity to raise awareness of it and make some fashionable threads inspired by it, Ralph Lauren decided to own the word ‘rugby’ in America.
And own it he does. Rugby.com is his, and the design of preppy, “Vassar, Harvard, Princeton and Yale inspired by Eton” lifestyle apparel for male and female collegiates is all HIS.
I have to hand it to Ralph though … His 2010 collection (as seen in the Japanese Edition of the Fall/Winter 2010 lookbook) features beautifully crafted contemporary denim with a preppy twist for the guys and a more country/retro vibe for the women. I especially applaud the gentleman’s waistcoats, the rustic plaid, the peacoats, the striped jerseys (sooooo Cambridge it hurts), and the nod to 60s glam. www.rugby.com
Other useless facts about Rugby & the US of A
– The most I’ve heard/seen of rugby in the US is the Annual HSBC Sevens World Series, an annual elite-level competition series between 11 nations (Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, England, South Africa, Argentina, Kenya, Wales, USA, Canada), whose top professional rugby players compete against each other throughout the year for the World Series Title. The US stopover tournament, always held over Valentines weekend is always a scream. Stage 4 of the 2011 skirmish is being held in Las Vegas on February 12th and 13th next year. www.usasevens.com
– Rugby will be an Olympic sport for the first time in 86 years when the games are held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The U.S. won the gold medal the last time rugby was played in the Olympic games — in 1924.
– The sport was relatively dormant in America after the gold-medal win until USA Rugby was founded in 1975. In 2005, there were 62,000 men and women players registered with USA Rugby. Today, there are more than 92,000, a majority of whom are younger than 21.
– The Rugby (Ralph Lauren) brand also encompasses Rugby Food & Spirits, a small cafe modeled after the brand and offering dining inspired by the Rugby theme. Now there’s something! Ralph Lauren has truly understood the game of rugby – “Rugby fans are always hungry fans!!” Feed me!