A Guide To Ralph Lauren Clothing Sub-Brands and Diffusion Lines

Ralph Lauren has his name on a vast array of different brands.

While Polo Ralph Lauren is his most well-known, most popular and most counterfeited – evidenced by the success of my article on how to authenticate Polo garments – there are many other brands with his name on them.
RL is known for quality, and this can be a real hazard when buying, as his name isn’t just on good quality clothing. Sure, Polo is usually good. And Purple Label is made to a fine luxury standard. There are a few good ones.
But there are some pretty ordinary pieces with Ralph’s name on them, and some of these brands aren’t even overseen – or sometimes not even owned – by Ralph.

Which means it’s important to know which is which, and how to identify the tags on each. And that’s why you’re here.
I’m only going to cover clothing lines in this article, so homewares lines will be excluded. The following list will be in alphabetical order, with 15 brands listed.


Chaps (formerly Chaps Ralph Lauren)

Chaps was a diffusion line started by Ralph Lauren early in his career, as a more price-friendly alternative to Polo which is sold in mid and lower tier department stores.
The brand hasn’t been directly affiliated with Ralph himself for years, hence why his name was dropped by the label, which is now simply named Chaps. Beware when looking to buy on eBay, as many sellers on the platform list later, non RL-affiliated Chaps items as being Chaps Ralph Lauren. It’s a tad misleading and an easy trap to fall into as a buyer.
It can also be an easy trap to fall into as a seller, unless you know the brand’s history. If you’re a seller and you’re reading this, now you know!
As far as I am aware, Chaps is not – and has not been – counterfeited.

Vintage Chaps is lower on the quality scale than Polo. Modern Chaps is low on the general quality scale, and should be avoided. I don’t think Chaps is worth buying either for personal use or for resale, unless you find something really old and interesting.


Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren

This was a diffusion line that focussed mostly on denim and workwear staples, at a decent price point. It was discontinued in 2016.
You can get some solid items under this marque, with a variety of jeans, jackets and things such as work shirts.
I have a corduroy western style work shirt from this line, and it’s quite sturdy. Don’t buy it at premium prices, though.
As far as I know, Denim & Supply is not counterfeited.

I would consider Denim & Supply to be average-decent on the quality scale. For personal wear, this label is fine as the quality is usually decent and prices aren’t particularly high. For resale, consider that this brand won’t command the attention that the more popular labels like Polo do.


Lauren Ralph Lauren

This brand was created in a similar fashion to Chaps, as a diffusion line to be sold in department stores, namely Macy’s. Ralph actually lost control of this brand, and was unable to remove his name from it.
As such, the items in this range have nothing to do with Ralph Lauren, with boring styling and average cuts.
This line is also known as RL Green Label, due to the dark green colour of the main tag. It is not counterfeited as far as I’m aware, given it is a low quality line.

This brand should be avoided, as the quality is usually poor. If it weren’t for the name, there wouldn’t be any association with Ralph whatsoever.


Polo Golf

A diffusion line started for the golf sportswear market. It has since been rebranded as RLX. This line is not a luxury offering, it contains sportswear often constructed from tech materials.


Polo Jeans Co.

Discontinued in 2006, this brand was made under license by another manufacturer. RL Corp had to buy back the brand from the licensee in order to kill the brand. As far as I am aware, it is not counterfeited.
You will find basics and denim sold under this label, and it’s most recognisable by the logo of an American flag with the letters ‘RL’ in place of the stars.

Items I’ve seen with this tag on them have generally been constructed well enough, but the quality of the fabrics has been rather shoddy. I would avoid buying them for personal use or resale.


Polo by Ralph Lauren

The most popular Ralph Lauren label, also known as Blue Label. You’ll find all manner of garments and accessories made under the Polo name, and they are usually of good quality, though the more modern offerings have seen a bit of a downturn in quality. This is the most widely counterfeited Ralph Lauren brand.

I own a lot of Polo clothing, and generally find it to be hard-wearing and good quality. It can be somewhat overpriced at retail. It’s a good brand to wear for personal use, as the styling is usually attractive. It has good resale value, too.


Polo Sport

Launched in 1993-1994, Polo Sport is one of the hallmark brands from the era. It’s characterised by bold logos and – as the name suggests – you’ll only find it on sportswear e.g. windbreakers, sweatshirts, tees, caps and polo shirts. It’s usually pretty good quality.

Note the similarity of the logo between this and Polo Golf.

Vintage Polo Sport garments are quite collectable and unique pieces can fetch a tidy premium on the resale market.


Polo University Club

A vintage entry-level offering made under license in the 1980s. This label consists mainly of tailoring, and is said to be decent quality for what it is, but don’t go expecting super high quality or paying premium prices for it.

This Styleforum thread (see comment 5 in particular) sheds some light on the brand’s history, target market and offering. It’s quite hard to find good information on Polo University Club so it’s definitely worth having a read of the thread, or at least that comment.


Polo Western Wear

Polo Western Wear Ad Vintage Ralph Lauren

Polo Western Wear was a diffusion line designed by Ralph and manufactured by GAP (The Gap).
Historical accounts say that this short-lived collaboration brand was plagued by issues, resulting in fit issues and The Gap bleeding money.
The brand was taken off of the shelves a short time after launch.


Ralph by Ralph Lauren

Yet another line which ended up as a more accessible one sold in department stores. Limited information is available on this line, but I was able to dig up something about it.

This New York Times article from 1994 says that this was around the time the Ralph label was launched, and it was supposed to be aimed at the ‘hip and young’ market.
Word on the street says that the Ralph label ended up being a diffusion line sold in Canadian Dillard’s department stores, and the majority of the garments were made in China.
It isn’t rubbish, but again, it isn’t Polo level. It’s entry level. Don’t take this as a warning against buying, but just be aware not to pay as much as you would for Polo.

Thanks to Elizabeth Kemister for kindly providing these photos, after contacting me for help verifying a garment.


Ralph Lauren Purple Label

Purple Label is the cream of the crop. Couture influenced women’s clothing and accessories are sold under this brand, in addition to high quality men’s tailoring (usually made in Italy or other nations renowned for luxury goods manufacturing by higher end factories) in both ready to wear and made to measure offerings, as well as evening wear and other high end garments.

Any RLPL garments that aren’t dresses, suits or evening wear usually have some interesting details reflective of its couture standing, and not found in other lines. For example, I have a Purple Label shirt in navy blue which features an old style point collar and is made entirely of heavy cotton terry towelling fabric. The fit is impeccable.


Ralph Lauren Rugby

Rugby was a brand aimed at university students, and generally had decent quality items. However, many were garishly branded so the versatility and wearability of them in anything other than a casual setting is limited. The styling of many of the brand’s offerings has aged quite poorly, but I do see the occasional great looking Rugby piece floating around.
It’s not a bad label to pick up for personal wear if you like the piece, and they can fetch moderate prices on the resale market, however they are more of a niche item.

Note that there are a variety of different tags in the Rugby line, especially for shirts. The easy way to check the legitimacy is via the laundry care tags – if they’re nearly illegible and embroidered/stitched writing, it’s good to go.

All Rugby photos courtesy of my friend Blake Canham-Bennett.


Ralph Lauren

I often find garments with this label in Polo outlet stores. They’re usually garments that fit entirely within the Polo aesthetic, but aren’t made to quite the same standard.
Think of this label as the outlet / factory seconds version of Polo, just like Brooks Brothers has the 346 line.

Ralph Lauren Shirt Guide

The care tags that go with these labels are generally the same as you’ll find on Polo garments, since they’re sold in the same stores.


RLX

This brand sells sportswear, and is the evolution of Polo Golf. It’s not expensive, it’s just normal sporting clothes with a slightly higher price tag.


RRL (also known as Double RL)

This line has some really interesting pieces, with some unorthodox design choices. The quality of the garments ranges from average to very high quality, depending on the individual piece. Its aesthetic borrows heavily from Western themes, Americana, leather and vintage.

An interesting fact: this brand is Ralph’s baby. It usually makes a loss for the RL corporation, but because it embodies Ralph’s personal aesthetic so closely and allows him to have a creative outlet for his personal style, the brand stays alive.

The main tags are fairly alike regardless of garment, but the care tags differ with the age of the garment.

Due to the nature of the design ethos, the garments from this line might not be for everybody. It’s costly to buy at retail, but also hard to sell. This goes for the resale market too, as many people outside the niche of RRL and vintage style fans won’t be attracted to the style of RRL.

All RRL photos courtesy of my friend Blake Canham-Bennett.


Concluding Thoughts

As a buyer, it can be quite difficult to navigate the maze of brands with Ralph Lauren’s name on them. It’s easy to get caught out with an item of average quality when you think you’re getting Polo. And sometimes you can get something even better!
Hopefully this guide will help you be a more savvy shopper.


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Sam founded STS in 2019 to help his fellow man to dress (and smell) fantastic, and most importantly to enjoy it! He works as a fitter at the made to measure tailoring store Beg Your Pardon in Adelaide, South Australia.

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