New book looks back at 50 years of Ralph Lauren polo

Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli

The polo shirt has evolved into one of the most worn and recognized pieces in fashion. To celebrate Ralph Lauren’s 50th birthday, the brand has decided to pay tribute to him by creating a beautiful book dedicated to his story. The new 544-page book, Ralph Lauren polo shirt, features 400 images and tells the story of the shirt you saw on your dads, on Kanye West – and now on bookstore shelves.

If you compare yourself to a fashion historian or even a design geek, it’s worth it. Divided into sections, the book describes the polo shirt from its humble beginnings in 1972 until today, chronicling the limited releases, colorways, stripes and iterations of the 900 stitch precision embroidered polo rider on the right chest. (Fun fact I learned in the book: the logo was created by a man who had never watched a polo game.)

Each distinct style is explained: Lauren loved vintage pieces, which inspired the ‘weathered’ polo shirt. In the 90s, he created the large cut of the polo shirt to match the current style of shirts. In the early 2010s, it launched destination polo shirts that featured the names of major cities across the chest. As the brand evolved, so did the looks that Lauren created.

Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli

“I wanted the shirt to be part of the life of the person wearing it,” Lauren wrote. Fifty pages of the book are devoted to photos of celebrities and athletes wearing the polo shirt over the decades, including a number of US presidents as well as Ye, Oprah Winfrey, Harry Styles, Jerry Seinfeld, Gigi Hadid and Venus Williams. Alongside celebrities, communities such as the Lo Lifes in Brooklyn – a subculture of polo fans, collectors and now archivists with a rich history dating back to the 80s – are featured in the book. One of Lo’s early officials, Victor Thirstin Howl III Dejesus, wrote of growing up in Brooklyn and what it meant: “Wearing a polo shirt meant you had something. You were rich.

Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli

The book is available for $39.95.

You can buy the book on the Amazon, Rizzoli or Ralph Lauren website. Special editions will be sold in Polo stores around the world and will include five covers inspired by Ralph Lauren’s original desire to offer the shirt in a rainbow of colors.

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