This sweater is from the now defunct Rugby Ralph Lauren, available last Fall. It looks nice, was likely made in China, probably cost $200 on sale, and would likely not fit anyone larger than a 32 waist/38 chest.
I found this one yesterday at a local thrift shop for $4.99. It's old, as if we needed more proof that anything Rugby did well was really just to knock off something that was already good.
It's from Lands' End, was made in Scotland, likely never cost anything near $200, and fits a grown man of average size. Add Maine Hunting Shoes and dungarees.
The nerdy menswear corner of the internet is and has been all abuzz for some time over the demise of the Rugby Ralph Lauren line. I was going to try to avoid the topic, but when I found this sweater yesterday, something about it occurred to me that needs saying.
For some guys, especially the young, rail thin and fashionably conscious, Rugby and brands like it were a godsend. "Preppy" stuff has been all the jam these last few years, and this was a chance to combine that trend with the other all too prevalent trend of wearing clothes much too tight.
For some other guys, it was a joke, a cartoon. It was nothing more than an overpriced cheaply made knock-off of a manner of dress they had held near and dear all their lives, in direct opposition to fashion and trends. It was in its way infuriating to see this anti-fashion become so...fashionable. It made stuffy types feel the same way hipsters do when the world at large finally discovers the band they've been listening to for years.
Praise and complaints abounded. The menswear community being what it is, anonymous guys couldn't help but scream about it one way or the other. That's what I call successful marketing. Makes me wonder why they pulled the plug.
Personally, I could do without it. I'm in my mid thirties, and so is my waist size. I like to dress like a grown-up, and much of what Rugby offered was to young and skinny for me. Some of it was great, most of it, like the sweater above, could be found in its better form elsewhere for less money with a little thrifty perseverance. But I am glad that these brands exist.
Young people are generally silly.They have yet to figure themselves out completely. In the past, matters of dress were learned from a boys father. My generation and the one that followed have come of age largely without the benefit of this kind of fatherly guidance. I am a lucky exception, but many of my fathers generation are responsible for the laxness of rules and manners that we are living with today. Brands like Rugby are more likely to lead a young man to the better version of itself down the line than say t-shirts and sweatpants. What do I care if it was kind of silly? If Ralph and J. Crew want to deck out a whole generation of guys on penny loafers, bow ties and Nantucket reds, how can that be all bad? It's better than a lot of the options out there, and there's nothing wrong with this stuff being "cool", even if its only for a while. Eventually, these kids will grow up, and so will there taste. They won't be afraid to wear a coat and tie, and they'll know the difference one day between the good stuff and the junk.
Besides, it has been nice not be looked at like I'm some kind of weirdo these last few years.