Polo Ralph Lauren’s low-key menswear presentation in early March was likely the last fashion event many editors attended before New York’s coronavirus lockdown went into effect.
Knowing what we know now, we might have spent a bit longer in that cosy,
mahogany-panelled showroom, taking our time to chat with R.L. staffers and sip Champagne at the corner bar instead of rushing back to the office.
It isn’t just that we’re nostalgic for those real-life interactions; any visit to Lauren’s Madison Avenue H.Q. feels a little nostalgic, with its tufted furniture, weathered rugs, and walls lined with vintage R.L. pieces.
It’s comforting to find yourself immersed in that warm, highly specific world just moments after dodging pedestrians on the streets of Midtown. There’s also a degree of comfort in knowing that, no matter what season it is or what’s happening in the broader fashion conversation, you know what you’ll find in there: tweed suits, madras plaids, Western motifs, stacks of cable knits, neat rows of oxfords.
With the fashion industry continuing to shift its attention from trends and novelty back to quality, longevity, and sustainability, Polo’s fall 2020 collection felt newly relevant in March. But in the wake of the coronavirus crisis—which has bankrupted retailers and exposed the industry’s excesses and overproduction—it feels especially on point.
Now, the feeling seems to be that if you’re going to make anything, it should be meaningful, intentional and built to last. Much of the new Polo collection qualified, especially the items that nodded to the early days of Lauren’s brand: the three-piece suits, buttery suede coats, barn jackets, and varsity knits. All of it, wearable, timeless, investment-worthy stuff.
Executive vice president and creative director John Wrazej pointed out the more directional three-piece suits, including a few with cropped, wide trousers plucked from another era. They were part of the Haberdashery line, which is particularly big in Japan, as is vintage R.L. While novel, those items were rooted in the past.
More Polo guys will be drawn to the items with a Southwestern spirit, like the soft blanket coats and a puffer with a retro postcard print of wilderness explorers. Again: a novel, but not disposable, and destined to become a vintage trophy one day.