NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 13, 2016
A giant bowl of popcorn sat propped on a coffee table otherwise stacked with photography books. Models lounged on couches in front of floor-to-ceiling “windows” showcasing stunning views of New York City monuments and skyline. An Irish Setter trotted here and there, eager to make friends. Stepping into the Polo showroom on Madison Avenue, buyers and editors with packed schedules joked about pulling up a club chair and staying a while. Ralph Lauren’s world is a seductive one—anybody who’s tried to book a table at the always-packed Polo Bar can tell you that.
Lauren’s Fall men’s and women’s offerings for Polo looked familiar, but in a way, that’s the essence of their appeal. Don a tweedy three-piece suit with a chambray shirt, collegiate tie, and duck boots, or a faded camouflage M-65 style jacket with a cashmere Aran sweater and beaten-up blue jeans and you’re part of his guy’s club. On the women’s side, where fashion moves at a much faster pace, the Polo-isms were to be found in the accessories (a Southwestern belt), details (fringe: yards and yards of it), and the unlikely city-country combination (this season seen in the faded flannel shirt tied around the waist of a silver Lurex thread slip dress).
Within each collection there were novelties: A three-piece men’s suit in washed black denim looked cool, and the sized-down women’s version of Polo’s classic camel coat made a strong combination paired with a thin black turtleneck and a pinstriped pencil skirt. Lauren has incorporated timely touches of athleisure into the lines beyond the performance wear of Polo Sport. But change isn’t this aspirational brand’s selling point: It’s about timelessness and recognizability, especially on the men’s side. Polo is a ticket to the good life—for its customers and certainly for Mr. Lauren himself.