Ralph Lauren is a cult classic American brand that consistently creates stunning men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, but is Ralph Lauren a luxury brand?
The Ralph Lauren brand has grown a lot since its founding in 1967 and has launched several different sub-labels offering different ranges of adult and children’s clothing as well as bags and accessories that cater to all different types of customers. But where does Ralph Lauren sit on the luxury hierarchy, and can we consider it a luxury brand?
Some may consider Ralph Lauren to be a luxury brand because of the price range of some of the clothing and accessories available. Plus, Ralph Lauren is consistently seen at Spring and Fall New York fashion weeks, as well as showing resort and pre-fall collections.
However, Ralph Lauren may not be considered a luxury brand because of its many sub-labels that offer clothing at a more affordable price and do have the same high-quality craftsmanship you may expect from a luxury brand.
This article will consider the history of the brand, the quality and price range of the clothing and accessories, and take a closer look at a few best-selling items in order to answer the question, is Ralph Lauren a luxury brand?
is Ralph Lauren a luxury brand?
The History of Ralph Lauren
American fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, whose real name is Ralph Lifshitz, founded his namesake brand in 1967 in New York City, and it has now grown to become one of the most famous American fashion brands.
Ralph Lauren himself grew up in the Jewish community in the Bronx alongside fellow fashion designers Calvin Klein and Robert Dennings and began his career in fashion at the tie manufacturer Beau Brummel.
In 1967, he established The Ralph Lauren Corporation’s range of men’s ties, and in 1968 he launched the first full line of menswear, named Polo after his love of sports. The brand grew quickly, and in 1969, the department store Bloomingdale’s sold the Ralph Lauren men’s line exclusively.
It wasn’t until 1971 that Ralph Lauren released the first womenswear pieces, a collection of tailored shirts; 1972 saw the launch of a full womenswear line. 1972 was also the year that the famous Ralph Lauren polo shirt was released. initially, it was available in 24 colors and features the brand’s logo of the polo player on the front of the shirt.
The popularity of the Ralph Lauren brand was growing, but the label really became a worldwide name in 1974 when Ralph Lauren costumed all the male cast members of the Jack Clayton-directed film, The Great Gatsby. All costumes were pieces of the Polo Ralph Lauren collection, except for a pink suit worn by Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby that was exclusively designed for the character.
The success of these costumes led to Ralph Lauren also creating the costumes for Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in the 1977 film, Annie Hall.
The first Ralph Lauren store was opened in 1972 on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California, then it wasn’t until 1981 that Ralph Lauren expanded outside of the United States. The brand opened its first European store in 1981 on New Bond Street in London.
The popular, classic designs became wildly popular in the 1980s and 1990s, so much so that the Ralph Lauren brand opened a restaurant in 1999 in Chicago, another one in Paris in 2010, and again in 2015 in New York.
Over the years, Ralph Lauren has expanded greatly, and there are now several diffusion lines that offer different styles of clothing at a range of prices to cater to different target markets. Polo Ralph Lauren was the first line, launched in 1967, and offered men’s sportswear and tailored clothing. The women’s polo line was launched in 2014.
The Ralph Lauren Collection for women was launched in 1971, offering everything from handmade evening dresses to sportswear. The Ralph Lauren Purple label was then established in 1994, selling high-end men’s suits, sportswear, and footwear. Ralph by Ralph Lauren was founded in 1994 and offered suit separates, vests and topcoats.
Double RL was launched in 1993 and includes salvage denim and vintage apparel, while Lauren Ralph Lauren was established in 1996, offering women’s and men’s clothing at a cheaper price point. The Polo range expanded in the 1990s to now include the Polo Sport line and Polo Golf range, as well as the Polo Ralph Lauren Children collection.
The Pink Pony line started in 2000, with proceeds going to cancer charities all over the world. There is also a homeware range named Ralph Lauren Home, and a Fragrance line, the first of which was brought out in 1978.
Now, there are almost 500 Ralph Lauren stores all over the world, plus concessions in department stores, so it is easy to get your hands on some beautiful Ralph Lauren looks with that classic preppy style.
The Quality of Ralph Lauren Clothing
In order to determine whether Ralph Lauren is a luxury brand, we need to consider the quality of the Ralph Lauren brand, and to do this, we are going to delve into the price range of some of the sub-labels, the materials used, and the craftsmanship of these pieces.
1. Price Range
There are so many different collections under the Ralph Lauren brand name, making it difficult to produce just one price range for all collections since each collection is different. Below, we have looked closely at a few different diffusion lines and considered the price range of the items offered to gain an idea of whether Ralph Lauren is a luxury brand.
As already established, Lauren Ralph Lauren is one of the more affordable lines, with pieces available for between $38 and $360 – making this line ideal for anyone on a tighter budget. The original Polo Ralph Lauren range has slightly higher prices, with items on offer for between $60 – $698.
Ralph Lauren Collection has a high price, with their beautiful ready-to-wear pieces on offer for between $150 – $6,500 – showing how this is the most luxurious and expensive range under the Ralph Lauren Corporation. The differences in price range also affect the quality of the items on offer.
The materials used also give an idea of the quality of the clothing and accessories. For the Ralph Lauren Collection, most clothing seemed to be made from cashmere, cotton, linen, silk, and wool blends, while the bags were made from either calfskin or lambskin leather.
The Polo Ralph Lauren collection makes use of linen, cotton, viscose, and elastane in their clothing, while Lauren Ralph Lauren made their clothing from cotton blends, polyester, and rayon.
The materials used in each collection show how much the quality differs and how long you would expect these pieces to last – obviously, the Ralph Lauren Collection items would last longer and have a better feel than the Lauren Ralph Lauren pieces.
The craftsmanship is a little bit harder to determine since there are so many clothes and accessories made for many different collections. It seems that different items, such as women’s clothing, suits, belts, and watches, are made in different countries.
Most of the high-end, good-quality men’s and womenswear are made in Italy (this includes the items in the Ralph Lauren Collection), while the cheaper men’s and women’s clothing is made in China (this includes the Lauren Ralph Lauren range). Some of the belts, boots, and homewares are made in the UK, while some jackets, polos, jeans, and boots are made in North America.
Most towels are made in Turkey, the watches are from Switzerland, the perfumes are from France, and the blazers and footwear are made in Portugal. As you can see, there is a real range of craftsmanship, and this is often reflected in the price of the item you are buying.
Best Selling items from Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren and its diffusion lines offer a wide range of clothing and accessories for men, women, and children, so we are going to take a look at some of the bestselling womenswear pieces to help decide whether Ralph Lauren is a luxury and perhaps inspire some future purchases!
There are loads of gorgeous dresses available from all the different Ralph Lauren diffusion lines – but we have chosen this bestselling Polo Ralph Lauren Blar Sleeveless Fit & Flare Shirtdress because of its elegant design.
This white shirt dress is made from 100% cotton, making it super breathable and cool in the summer months.
The style of the dress is classically Ralph Lauren, with the embroidered polo player logo, synonymous with the brand, as the only embellishment on the dress. The waist is pulled in with a white cotton belt to create the perfect summer dress.
Everyone needs a gorgeous blazer in their life, and we love this effortlessly stylish one from the Ralph Lauren Collection.
This white blazer is made from a wool and spandex mix, while the luxurious lining is a silk and spandex mix for a comfortable feel and structured look. The double-breasted Camden blazer has a peaked lapel and waist-defining silhouette that is super flattering on all body types.
The glittering gold buttons are engraved with the Ralph Lauren Collection logo for a flawless finishing touch. The Ralph Lauren Collection is a little more pricey than other lines, so the price point of this blazer is $1,990.
We love this logo-emblazoned sweater’s classic American style, which has a quintessential Ralph Lauren look. This cozy sweater is made in Italy from wool and silk for a completely luxurious feel.
The Collegiate aesthetic of this sweater comes from the bold RL logo that features cream silk on the front of this black sweater, making this piece totally irresistible.
Wear casually with your comfiest jeans, or pair with tailored trousers and a white shirt for a smarter look. The timeless look of this sweater means it will be a go-to piece in your wardrobe for many years to come.
There is a whole plethora of Ralph Lauren accessories on offer, including belts, small leather goods, and scarves. The scarves, in particular, are just stunning – available in a whole range of designs so you can find yourself the perfect option for each season!
This Polo Ralph Lauren Seasonless Signature Solid Scarf is a must-have piece to keep warm in the fall and accessorize in the spring. Available in a range of neutral shades and bright colors, we love the cream option for its versatility.
The Italian-made scarf is crafted from a mix of lyocell and wool for a luxe yet durable finish, and the bottom of the scarf is embroidered with a navy Polo Ralph Lauren logo.
The diffusion line, Ralph Lauren Collection has some stunning bags on offer, including this chic and timeless Wellington Calfskin Crossbody Bag.
Crafted from supple navy calfskin leather, this versatile crossbody bag is inspired by Ralph Lauren’s contemporary equestrian heritage with the gleaming gold stirrup buckle that sits on the front of the bag.
For practicality, the crossbody strap is adjustable and the front flap closure opens to a cotton-lined interior with a flat pocket. This paired back design of this bag and its functional compact size make it the perfect everyday handbag.
So, What’s The Verdict?
It is very difficult to generalize the Ralph Lauren brand as a whole and determine whether it is a luxury brand or not. Each collection and line are a little different, so you need to look at each range individually.
Out of the three most popular collections we have looked at in detail, we would say the Ralph Lauren Collection and Purple Label are luxury fashion brands because of their use of luxury materials, high-quality craftsmanship, and high price range.
However, the Polo Ralph Lauren range and Lauren Ralph Lauren range are both entry-level luxury brands – their craftsmanship and quality of materials do not qualify them to be considered luxury brands.
All the diffusion lines have the classically American Ralph Lauren look, which is so sophisticated, so it really just depends on your budget as to whether you go for the luxurious Ralph Lauren Collection or the entry-level Polo Ralph Lauren and Lauren Ralph Lauren.
We hope you found this article answering the question, is Ralph Lauren a luxury brand, helpful! For more luxury fashion content, check out the links below.