Ralph Lauren Debuts RL Vintage

Ralph Lauren Vintage Suede Fringe Riding Jacket

Ralph Lauren Vintage Suede Fringe Riding Jacket

Menswear collectors scour eBay, vintage stores, secondhand stores and more for vintage Ralph Lauren pieces. Women, too, can feel the rush of a fashion high when they find pristine pieces from Lauren’s past colletions out of their natural habitat of department stores and perfectly curated Ralph Lauren boutiques. But whether you get more of a thrill from the hunt or the find, a visit to Ralph Lauren’s new online concept, RL Vintage, will sate the itch for the designer’s archival duds.

RL Vintage, which launched on November 15, is a response by the company to fans’ nearly insatiable need for one-of-a-kind Ralph Lauren pieces. David, Ralph’s son, discovered Japanese magazines dedicated to his father’s work in the ’80s and ’90s as well as Reflex, a boutique in Tokyo that specializes solely in finding pristine pieces of vintage Ralph and selling to collectors. Upon his return to the states, David found over 300,000 eBay listings for Ralph items and discovered a whole culture revolving around the pure American design that his father built an empire around. With the launch of RL Vintage, David brings together a collector’s dream of merchandise as well as all the details that a history buff lives for (whether its fashion history or American history is up to interpretation).

Ralph Lauren Vintage Veteran's Riding Jacket

Ralph Lauren Vintage Veteran’s Riding Jacket

The RL Vintage site will change seasonally, and for its debut, the Web site’s first batch of 50 pieces highlight Ralph’s obsession with the American West. Native American influences, cowboy culture and the patina of bygone rodeos and cattle drives are pervade the pieces, which run the gamut from military-inspired tailoring to fringed jackets and sarape-printed blanket coats.

The pieces come from around the world and are sourced by a dedicated team at Ralph Lauren HQ as well as a team of Lauren devotees, which are all profiled on the site. They range from Michol Sabbadini, a photographer who has worked for Elle, Glamour and Vanity Fair to the Hovey sisters, a duo of New York-based interior designers who have been obsessed with Ralph Lauren’s preppy aesthetic since childhood. Menswear curators include Denis Gianfranco Frison, who started collecting Ralph Lauren pieces at age 13 and Yoshihito Murayama, a Japanese fan that runs Safari, a store devoted to selling vintage Ralph Lauren. Not only are they doing the legwork for you — visiting estate sales, flea markets, granny’s attics and more — they’re putting their collections on display, which include one-of-a-kind Ricky bags (named for Ralph’s wife), Navajo-inspired pieces from the ’80s, and pieces dating to the ’70s that Ralph himself forgot he designed. Prices for each item aren’t published, so Enquiries are the M.O. for the site. Just click the button and an expert at RL Vintage will contact you regarding the pricing for the pieces.

RL Vintage Tag

RL Vintage Tag

Each season, the theme and selection of pieces will change. So while you may be a fan of Ralph’s work, you might not be fan of his Western sojourns. Instead of fuming and going on a thrift store rampage, wait a few months and the site will change entirely. What’s next? With a body of work that spans from classic American Ivy League style to Jazz Age jaunts and more, the goods that will pop up at RL Vintage are just like visits to a secondhand store — you never know what will pop up. 50 pieces will be on offer each season, and they’re all one-of-a-kind, naturally. The team behind RL Vintage ensures that each and every piece that goes online is authentic Ralph, and when possible, still has all the labels inside reflecting their true provenance.

Another aspect of the site is the Bring it Back campaign, which offers fans of the brand a chance to suggest their favorite pieces for re-issue. The first in the bunch is the iconic Polo Bear, which was inspired by a limited-edition collaboration with Steiff, graced everything from t-shirts to sweaters in the ’90s and ’00’s wearing Ralph Lauren blazers, tuxedos, sportswear, tennis garb and more. Voters will be able to choose which design gets produced again. With fans already chomping at the bit for truly one-of-a-kind the RL Vintage items, the sweaters might be the only thing available when all 50 items get snatched up this season.

For more information and to shop the collection, visit www.RLVintage.com

Photos courtesy RL Vintage

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Author:Christopher Luu for Fashion Trends Daily

Christopher Luu is a Fashion Trends Daily Senior Writer and Menswear Editor.