Ralph Lauren Perfects Olympic Style
by laurie brookins
Ralph Lauren likely didn’t anticipate the recent commotion caused by the knowledge that his 2012 US Olympic gear wasn’t manufactured in the US. After all, this year’s effort not only represents Lauren’s third tour of duty as an official outfitter of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams (with little to no ruckus created by past iterations), but also, as the quintessential American brand, Ralph Lauren ultimately has little to prove in matters of patriotism—one need only survey the thousands of people he employs at his 273 stores across the US, including, of course, his iconic Main Street location. Lauren has remedied the resulting maelstrom with a promise that the American team’s 2014 sportswear will indeed be made in the US, but in the meantime, let’s put that larger discussion aside and embrace that which Lauren does best: his effortless combination of Americana and romance.
This year’s designs were based on the uniforms of the 1948 US Olympic team (which captured 84 medals, the most of any country that year) and of classic lines and modern sensibilities, all wrapped in the idyllic notion that for 17 days in London, men and women have converged from throughout the US to vie not merely for medals, but for the achievement of their dreams. Our dreams get a little wrapped up in that as well, which is why we’re inclined to bedeck ourselves in red, white, and blue right alongside the athletes. And regardless of where those clothes were crafted, it’s ultimately the spirit of the wearer—be they Olympic athlete or spectator—that imbues each of us with a feeling that is wholly American.
RIGHT: 2012 US Olympic Collection duffle ($225) and beach towel ($60), Ralph Lauren. 31–33 Main St., East Hampton, 324-1222
photography by brian klutch