Following on from previous posts detailing my obsession with all thing Ralph, last Saturday we were invited to the re-launch of the RL store in Glasgow’s Ingram Street, the only branch in Scotland.
Mr RL with Bill Blass
Met by a uniformed flunky toting white gloved a silver tray loaded with champagne which he proceeded to press into our sweaty mitts with expertise, regularity and alacrity, we were surprised just inside the door by a life size Ralph Lauren teddy bear wearing a blazer and flannels complete with crested badges who advanced upon us to shake hands and the manager of the place, updated from his usual shagged out Rugby/Polo college look to a sleeker, neater and let’s face it much more expensive Black Label suit, shirt and tie combo which including the RL shoes the entire staff have been issued must have run to circa £2k. The under manager then appeared wearing one of the new lightweight tweed and flax sports coats from Polo which sells at an astonishing £775.00 and a Purple label shirt which runs to £195.00 retail. He always wore beautiful RL shoes anyway but again if you include his RRL jeans and belt the look must have been a £1.5k value.
The shop has been reorganized, with the expanded ladieswear ranges (many more bags and shoes and a lot more Black Label than previously) now moved upstairs to the salon and the menswear confined to the corridor in the lobby and the half landings, with the gents Black Label now stocked in the upstairs room beside the salon. Childrenswear has been shoehorned into the large closet downstairs and part of the lobby floor.
Contrary to my expectations which had been bleak regarding the preppy ranges that I favour, I was delighted to see for the first time in Glasgow a rack of bowties and a slightly expanded rack of odd jackets as well as a selection of RL shoes, something Glasgow has been denied in recent seasons. The ladies have been provided with two Ricky bags in silver metallic python which carry £4k plus pricetags and some more affordable (gulp!) totes and clutches at circa £1k.
I bought Mrs Cyclo a wee knitted vest with an appliqué pendant and myself a new Bowtie, in red and blue with crossed racquets on. We were assured of invitations to the next event, made our excuses and left.
Now just for reasons of clarity let me point out that I have myself paid £700 for a tweed coat from Ralphs and over £1k for a leather but out with the winter sale I was the only in store buyer of that sport coat and jacket. Many of the collection pieces that I bought were only bought by me – I’m one of their best customers in Scotland. Much of the preppier stock was brought in at my request (I’ve asked for some patchwork madras stuff next – should be in soon).
My reason for mentioning the cost of the gear is simply that I don’t think Glasgow has a population large enough and rich enough to sustain these prices. There just isn’t the market for £4k handbags or much of one for £1k bags…maybe one or two footballers (although I’ve never seen one in the shop) and some of the wealthier businessmen. Then, for the cost of a Black Label Suit you could go to a good custom tailor (Ede and Ravenscroft will clothe you for £800 with two pairs of trousers and less if you wait till the sale). The few pieces of Purple Label (such as the cashmere jumpers at £665) are just astonishingly dear. You really would have to be seriously wealthy to justify them. I’ll be surprised if the stock remains unchanged over the next quarter/season.
So…wish list for if my numbers come up?
1. The orange suede drivers mocs.
2. The slim leg Black Label Cargos
3. The black with yellow stripes nautical top, BL again.
4. it’d have to be a big win but the pink cashmere jumper from Purple label, it's 'king lurverly