Two legends enter the room. They talk fashion, style and everything in between. At the end of an in-depth dialogue, they leave amicably. That's what happened when Style Dot Com Editor-in-chief Dirk Standen interviewed Ralph Lauren in the lead up to Lauren's debut Polo collection for women. Throughout the extensive interview, Standen and Lauren touch on just about everything you could want between two titans of menswear. The piece is very, very long and one of the most insightful looks at the Ralph Lauren legend anywhere ever, perhaps because we hear it directly from the horse's mouth this time (no pun intended). Standen even at one point literally says, "It ain't Ralph though," DIRECTLY TO MOTHERFUCKING RALPH. Wow, what a legend. We pulled out some of the main talking points you might be interested in, but seriously, do yourself a favor and read the whole piece. You might actually learn something for a change.
On translating Polo into a women's line:
"... I said, 'You know, I can really do Polo for women because there are lots of things that young women love in the men’s line.' They want this shirt, they want that jacket, they want the sweater, and it seems at the time it looked a little mens-y, but when you put it in the fashion show, it looks really cool."
On shuttering Rugby:
"...as I made Rugby better and better, it started to look more like Polo. And so I said, 'Why should I do this? Let me go focus in on Polo and add what I think the Rugby thing had said,' which were some younger things. A lot of people ask me about Rugby. People come in my store and say, 'I want Rugby!' When you don’t do something anymore, all of a sudden everyone treasures it."
On the differences between the RL collections:
"Purple Label is flying out of stores ... Black [Label] is not as good as Purple ... My heart is in Purple Label. What looks like Ralph Lauren is Purple Label, and it’s the ultimate. Purple Label is all handmade. It’s all beautiful. Great product. ... Black Label’s developed. I have Black Label jeans and shirts and ties, but there’s only so much you can do with Black Label in terms of the look because it’s very minimal ... But Purple Label is really what I’m building my business on."
On handling all the collections:
"Generally, the designer is not the founder of the company. He might be the one who makes the statement, but he’s not running the company. Me, I worry about all of it ... If I were sick, I’d feel the company goes on. I try to give them [the RL team] everything I have in me to understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and some do and some don’t."
On the name change and if anyone still cares:
"Not surprised [that it still comes up in interviews]. When I was very young it was not a big deal. I was never trying to be anyone. No secrets. I don’t think it comes up that much anymore. It’s part of my history of course, and I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t know why that would be the only reality. It’s always suspect if you change your name, but I’m not hiding anything."
On Kanye's now iconic "It ain't Ralph though" statement:
"[laughs] So an adjective. It’s very Ralph ... That’s very cool. Well, that’s great. If I were to cater to Kanye, he would know that I’m catering to him. The fact that I make what I make—he gets it. He gets the quality and he respects it. And I think that’s the key, why I work all the time is to do that. That’s the fun."