Ralph Lauren kicks its 'preppy look' Rugby label into touch

Closure of Aubin & Wills is another sign that shoppers have tired of  high-end collegewear

It’s the all-American style which allows shoppers across the world to dress like wealthy Ivy League students. But could our love affair with “preppy” clothes be waning?

US fashion giant Ralph Lauren today announced that it was closing its Rugby label, which specialises in high-end college wear, by the end of 2013.

The news came just weeks after the Jack Wills group – the British label known for its attention to upper echelon leisurewear – announced that it would be closing its upkmarket sister line Aubin & Wills  after Christmas.

Rugby Ralph Lauren launched in 2004 to cater to a growing market for the traditional and ultra-conservative sports-casual wardrobe of the American WASP, or – to give it its proper name – “the preppy look”.

The closure of the line, which boasts 14 stores worldwide including one in London’s Covent Garden, is indicative not only of a climate where retailers are getting back to basics, but also of shoppers’ changing tastes.

Both Ralph Lauren and Jack Wills have at their heart at very distinct vision of retro-hip nostalgia, be it based in the tweedy Britishness that the American firm has adopted so enthusiastically, or the Ivy League-style sportswear that, conversely, the British company has managed to distil and render desirable.

“What we are seeing is fashion brands reviewing their operations to ensure they are focussing on their core business,” says Caroline Nodder, editor-in-chief of the trade magazine Drapers. “Where they have launched brand extensions during the good times it may well be they now drop these in favour on concentrating on the strongest part of their business.” 

“Both brands already do a really good line in preppy menswear,” says Adam Welch, editor of the style magazine Wonderland, “but trying to expand the idea of what that is has not worked. The preppy look is not going to go away, but there’s not such a demand for collegiate-style clothes that each brand needs to cater for different markets.”

The trend originally came about during the 1950s, an evolution of the Varsity look characterised by pre-war Oxbridge dandies. Preppy was the upper class version of Americana - chinos, cricketing jumpers and sports jackets the alternative to jeans and leathers. Over the years, it has been adopted by consecutive generations of burgeoning style icons, from Bobby Kennedy via Matthew Broderick to, more recently, ironic hipsters sporting chinos and deck shoes in a rather more knowing way

Such was the popularity of the Ivy League look that in 2009 Harvard itself announced plans for a fashion line named ‘Harvard Yard’, profits from which would be ploughed into scholarships and bursaries schemes.

The arrival of Abercrombie & Fitch on London’s Savile Row in 2007 was evidence of the preppy boom. But now the brand finds itself in similar difficulties to Ralph Lauren and the Wills group. Last year, Abercrombie reportedly offered money to Jersey Shore reality TV star Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino to stop wearing its clothes, in order to try and preserve some of the brand’s status, as enthusiasm began to wane for a style that appears to be dying the death of overexposure.

That Ralph Lauren should seek to focus on its core lines is further proof too that high-end retailers see more potential in the upper end of the market, rather than on the high street.  “The overarching theme of menswear next spring is sporty utility,” adds Welch. “But it’s coming across as sharp and futuristic. Preppiness seems a bit fusty in comparison. With the more sporty brands like Aubin & Wills and Rugby, it also represents a slightly outdated way of dressing; the high street consumer is more switched on about fashion now. “

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

    £30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

    Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

    Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

    Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible