The big news in Ralph Lauren world is the impending arrival of the new Polo store. Slated to open this August, the stand-alone flagship, on Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, will be a multilevel home for a baby that's outgrown its accustomed nest. Polo may be older than the tailored labels it shares space with in the Ralph Lauren family, but its prepster sensibility had made it seem like the little brother. But make no mistake, Polo is not little in any way. It's a behemoth. The space it is coming to occupy was formerly the home of Disney, in a building owned by Coke. That fits. Ralph is a megabrand among megabrands.
Taking a fresh look at Polo in the frat house-cum-hunting lodge the label creates in its showroom, it reminds you that as old as the line is, it has weathered well. (That's not even going into the weathering meticulously applied to, say, a shearling jacket, which looks to be around a century old; as a rep was quick to point out, this company was in the vanguard of using aging effects on clothing.) There's a lot of freshness to Polo because of the way it's relentlessly recombined. Every preppy "classic," so to speak, is worn under, over, or stitched into something else. Cardigans are patched with tweeds, hand-knits embroidered, chinos overprinted. And the Polo world will be shaken again with the introduction of Polo womenswear this fall. One imagines the little brother moving out on his own will welcome the chance to have girls in his room.
Meanwhile, Purple Label and Black Label continue to develop. The Fortune 500 CEO who waxes Purple can indulge in a sky-high stand collar for work and a cashmere sweatpant for the weekend—which is the greater leap of faith, only time will tell. While Purple brings plummy three-piece tartan suits for the holidays, Black Label, the most "European" (read: slim, soft, and unstructured) of the RL stable, is dark and sleek. Among the denim shown with haberdashery, and haberdashery shown with denim, softer-shouldered jackets in bird's-eye and micro-houndstooth stood out.
From Disney to Euro, Ralph Lauren spans worlds.