|Ralph Lauren Inc: An Even Bigger Horse's Ass in 2012|
|Written by Jeff Koopersmith|
|Sunday, 15 July 2012|
Jeff Koopersmith on the embarrassing ineptitude of Ralph Lauren and the unforgivable Olympic uniform gaffe that has both sides of the political aisle slamming the "WASP look" fashion maven.
After the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, I wrote a scathing criticism of Ralph Lauren and his son David re the logofication of American athlete's uniforms with an outsized logo of the company - Some guy riding a polo pony and looking aggressive.
Ralph did it again for Winter Olympics and now brings us another version - or should I say a weird copy of the 2008 uniforms for the 2012. At first I thought the photos I saw today were four years old, but then I realized they were new.
The differences in the pictures are subtle and present themselves much like those picture puzzles with which the solver must pick out tiny changes between what appear to be exactly the same photo.
One glaring example is the 2012 opening ceremonies jacket is that again has the far-too-large Polo Logo emblazoned in white over the heart of the model. The USA reference logo, on the other hand, was over the right lung and I must add that this is the side someone would be looking at while shaking hands with U.S. competitors (How did Lauren miss that little-known but important fact? If he had placed his logo over the right lung people who could actually afford his clothing or impact his reputation would have seen it far more clearly at hundreds of who's who London cocktail parties.) This of course gives Lauren the excuse to retort, "See, we were not trying to focus attention on our logo...that much!"
But no such luck. We don't believe that.
The second difference is that the athletes are wearing the same hat as favored by Saddam Hussein - a military cum sniper looking beret. This replaced a white British-styled golf cap used by Lauren in 2008.
The third mistake is that the jackets are now double breasted - I imagine a nod to the U.S. Navy and it's capabilities used against Saddam quite ably.
The fourth is that the women's jackets seem not to be double-breasted? Is this a fashion rule or is the stronger truth that Ralph Lauren has joined the "war against women" favored by the Tea Party or whoever?
The fifth and non-glaring problem for Ralph is that both major political parties are stomping all over his pony for making the poor-in-an-election-year choice to have the thousands uniforms - for any occasion - made in China! The highest incumbents and loudmouths, both Democrat and Republican, have all but sentenced poor old Ralph to death for this infraction. "Couldn't he have found an AMERICAN factory to make those AMERICAN uniforms", they cry out.
Well, here on Number 5 I will defend Ralph, if only to please Roger Ailes of Fox News - my wannabee mentor. Yes, I too am fair and balanced.
Look. Lauren knows that had he made the clothes in a domestic "sweat shop" some nosy liberal New York Times reporter would have found out about it and the next thing would be an all out attack on Polo from every major media source - excluding Fox News - that the poor were sewing like mad for him, their hands bleeding from the work on those $795 (retail) jackets!
Wisely, Lauren opted for the less of two evils I say - He might use a sweat shop - but it would be 10,000 miles away from London and New York so no one would bother to check.
Added to Lauren's mistakes, Americans are being trained at the moment to loathe and fear the Chinese for appearing to be smarter than us.
I have news. There aren't many or really any U.S. based factories that could easily pump out tens of thousands of a wide variety and size of uniforms that could cost nearly $1 thousand a piece, with tax and handing charges.
First. All the fabrics would have to be imported here at great tariff expense. Unfortunately American mills have long-ago gone to rust in the deep South and deeper North. Second, most likely anyone who knew how to sew a fine garment and living in America are probably now dead. So Ralph would have had to obtain those special work visas for the dozens of Chinese craftsman - or Vietnamese, etc. - to come to the USA to sew, sew, sew.
So Ralph - even though you will probably never read this - I applaud your attempt. To do anything less would have been silly. All you did was deny a part time job to some American workers who might not be as skillful as those in China, and certainly, not in your mind, as cheap or as quick.
Yet, as the official fashion guru of American Politics, in general and specific, (I, more than once, had to "style" a Senator or Congressperson, or City Councilman in my long career.) Of course then it wasn't called "styling" it was called - Hey, don't look like a jerk. Hmm...Wasn't it around 1980 that I brought Senator Ed Howard, then running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania to a Ralph Lauren shop where the gentle salesman said to him "My, you're a tall drink of water!" Ed Howard was a wonderful guy and I remember him and that story well.
But I digress. As a fashion guru - with taste and far too much pride in my country and its athletes I must take umbrage yet again for the logo, the hats, and the altered treatment for women's jackets. Does Ralph Lauren think women are already "double-breasted" as I suspect - or did someone insist?
Whichever the case on that score, there is no reason on earth why Ralph should put his logo on American Olympic athlete's clothes. Just this once - every two or four years - Lauren should resist the temptation of "more free advertising worldwide" and instead swallow his greed and leave the logo off - or inside the piece of clothing.
The hats? Fahgettaboutit. Here he is trotting out his brand in England - the world's finest golf-cap wearing nation and imperialist colonizer and he ditches the 2008 golf cap and goes to the now-tired Military Look? C'mon Ralph, even I have owned about 470 of your polo shirts, suits, pants and even socks - and I wouldn't make that mistake.
I can't say I really care about the non-double-breasted jackets for girls. For one thing I don't know anything more about that then the fact I searched the web and found hundreds of women's suits with double breasted coats. Here is just one of them - a $1,500 trench coat called "Cynthia".
Her's another cheapo $270 double breasted jacket for women called "Striped double breasted Jacket"
I could go on - but don't want to beat a dead pony.
In fact I think the entire double breasted thing for men is a tragedy. Why, because when the coat is unbuttoned it looks stupid. Period.
Hasn't Ralph Lauren learned - yet the this Polo logo did fine when it was tiny and on a knit shirt? Has he not noticed that the only people who wear the HUGE PONY logo got it from a thrift store - in bulk?
So that's it. All in good fun Chaps.
Ralph, here is a bit of personal advice. The next time you get involved in anything public or political - call me. I once told Also Gucci that fashion leaders would tire of his GG logo too.
P.S. If you want to see the 2008 version of this article - here it is!
RALPH LAUREN HUMILIATE AMERICA (2008 VERSION)
August 9, 2008 – Geneva (apj.us) – Ralph Lauren, the emperor of hushed prep chic, shocked countless millions last night as the world watched the never-ending parade of athletes during the opening ceremonies of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium.
After two hours of staring at a panoply of polyester, ill fits, grass skirts and spears, thrilling headgear, paramilitary costumes, and sweat on other nations’ teams, out came the hundreds of Americans dressed splendidly in true summer-weigh wools, superb navy-blue sport coats, and off-white wool pants that made most every other team look like they had popped into JC Penney to buy their outfits.
Oops! My bad! Turns out Lauren has just signed with Penney to create a cheap version of his clothing line for them. You would think Ralph believes he’s the new YSL – the man who first prominently plastered his logo on anything that wasn’t alive, for a price. Ralph has paid dearly for that decision: instead of becoming a fashion emperor, Lauren and his company looked like avaricial corporate Jesters – creating the best-looking and best-fitting clothing for our top competitors and coaches yet not resisting the urge to place his logo – in massive proportion – on everything the men and women were wearing.
Of course, this is typically American: create something combining taste and quality, and then reduce it to rubble it by advertising where you bought it – and how much you paid.
In this case, however, Lauren has literally paid a high price – for the Olympic license to produce the American team’s replica togs. Olympics licenses cost a fortune.
Yet the IOC continues to portray the Olympiad as a “pure” sporting event celebrating the best athletes on earth - not a place for blundering materialism. This seems especially poignant given that the United States is closing in on its fourth quarter of recession and more family homes are being reposessed than bought.
I propose that along with drug testing labs, we have logo-testing experts who make certain the logos are hidden.
Lauren – and most likely his son David – celebrated not the spirit of athletic competition but themselves and their brand, morphing our athletes into unpaid billboards for the “Polo™” pony and rider that has helped bring the Laurens great – and well deserved – riches.
As for the United States, Ralph Lauren beat out such giants as Nike and Adidas. Both competed for the rights to design, sponsor, or license clothing or uniforms for other international teams.
Ralph Lauren, who to his great credit is also a philanthropist who has great deal of money to foundations and causes that aid the handicapped, is also providing the outfits for the Para-Olympics to be held in September.
Norm Bellingham, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s chief operating officer, said, “Ralph Lauren was a ‘perfect fit’ for us, as, not only do they present a timeless and quintessentially American look, but they also have a great understanding of the importance of this moment in presenting these American ambassadors on a world stage in a manner that is appropriately dignified.”
I might paraphrase Bellingham this way: “Ralph Lauren is perfect for us. Not only do they represent a timeless and quintessentially colonial British look – but they have a great understanding of the importance of this moment to their bottom line and in presenting these American ambassadors on the world stage in a manner that is appropriately dignified – that of a New York Lower East Side haberdasher anxious to make a buck on something pure.”
David, the boy Lauren, sees Dad’s involvement in ‘sports marketing’ as a global effort – yes, as in globalization.
He wants to bring “fresh, new energy and elegance to the world of sports.”
Well, give junior credit: David has certainly succeeded in bringing an entirely new definition of tackiness to the American aura. The Italians were so busy clucking their tongues and shaking their heads in disapproval, you couldn’t hear the announcers.
David Lauren, by the way, worked his way up to becoming the senior vice president of advertising, marketing, and I guess corporate miscommunications at Polo Ralph Lauren, and I am sure he’s a wonderful guy – yet like all “next generation” businesschildren, he somehow forgot the very essence of elegance: looking like a million dollars, but not pimping it. David also doesn’t think athletes have much in the taste department – he actually said, “The goal was to create “something simple enough for the athletes to put together, yet stylish enough to elevate us as a country.”
He may have succeeded at the first, but was a poor showing at the second.
The irony of course is that polo (the game with horses, mallets and white balls) is not an Olympic sport – although it should be now. For some reason, polo saw its last Olympic performance at Hitler’s Olympic Games in 1936. So much for that.
What I find amazing is that Polo Ralph Lauren has already known for more than two years that upscale consumers are shying away from too-obviously logoed products. Lauren itself offers many items without the ubiquitous polo pony flashing on the fabric.
So why did Polo Ralph Lauren go and embarrass us all by not just putting their logo on the clothes but putting in on SO BIG? The white Polo logo against the dark blue navy color of the jackets, because of its tactlessness seemed to a foot high and 6 inches wide on the breast pockets. In fact, they were probably only four of five inches high, but I can vouch for this: you couldn’t miss ‘em, even in the mid-distance shots on a non-Hi-Def teevee.
Ralph Lauren’s logo will be hammered more than notably on every shirt, sweater, pair of shorts, sneakers and sunglasses our American athletes wear in China.
It’s a wonder that the Republican Party didn’t insist on tattooing each athlete's ankles with red elephants.
Moreover, don’t think this effort wasn’t strictly business. No one would tell me all the financial details, but Lauren put out many millions, and received ONLY $10 million for the Olympics scheme which may contractually carry over to Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012!
Received $10 million? For what? That just has to be wrong.
To be honest, several other fashion purveyors did participate with other national teams, including Rio-based Oestuido for Brazil and, of course, Nike, who supply 23 of 29 Chinese teams with their swooshes.
From my viewer’s standpoint, other makers’ logos were not visible.
The collective gasp of bad taste only came when Lauren paraded his logo on the backs, front, sides, and feet of our kids.
David Lauren added that his look is "very sharp, very graphic on TV, very aspirational and very statesmanlike.”
Graphic? Yes! Statesmanlike? Is he insane? When was that last time you saw former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wearing a Horse and Rider™ on his suit pocket?
Who’s kidding who? It’ clear as daylight through the Beijing smog that Polo Ralph Lauren is marketing to the four <em>billion</em> people who are projected to watch the Olympics these next weeks.
Lauren said that the company was nervous but excited about last night’s parade. He claimed the Beijing procession honoring world peace through athletics was Polo Ralph Lauren’s “highest-profile moment” in its more than forty-year history.
And they wasted it.
In the end, Alex Badia of DNR said it best: “They have drawn so much from American heritage that it represents the country”.
Yes, isn’t that a shame.
Oh brother. Time to take junior to the woodshed, Ralph!
You may think I can’t top this story.
Well, it tops itself.
Turns out Lauren also presented George Bush Jr. with his own “opening ceremony uniform”. His navy blazer, however, is embroidered with his title. Bush didn’t wear it; Laura was with him and she has a brain.
Anyway, how do you fit “George DumbBellYou Bush” on a lapel?
Postscript: Here’s a tip for all of you tasteless Neocons. You can buy a replica blazer from Lauren for only $695.00 (or 445.00 Euros) and everything else “Olympic” from Polo Ralph Lauren - but only if you beat the Rush!
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