There’s such limited novelty in fashion collaborations nowadays. The world seems to have a penchant for lazy backstratching between brands that churns out thoughtless consumer products. This is not to say that there is no validity in it at all. When two considered design processes meet, the products can be greater than the sum of its parts. Collaborations can facilitate an introduction to new ways of thinking or celebrate preexisting connections.
A collaboration that retains prestige is the partnership between Palace and Polo Ralph Lauren that occurred in 2018. The 37 piece collection saw London’s finest remix iconic Ralph staples, items such as the Harrington, B.D. shirt, Rugby shirt, Classic polo cap and the embroidered cord chino. They also placed their twist on select luxury items such as a set of pyjamas and a pair of slipper loafers. The selection displayed the harmony between the brands, channelling the ample blend of everyday and special occasion which they both represent. Gareth Skewis, co-owner of Palace, put it succinctly when talking about RL to BOF saying “It’s the only brand that you can wear to a board meeting, a funeral and go to the football in — and all in the same day,”.
The execution was flawless. The best of Ralph’s design language was employed to create a refreshing spin on pieces that are deeply engrained into popular culture. Years of being fans of the brand informed Palace’s expert use of patchwork, plaids and stripes and the delightful inclusion of the Polo bear backing out a heelflip. Is there anything that bear can’t do?! Something notable upon reflection is the lack of inclusion of the Polo shirt. Perhaps done out of respect? Maybe it was off limits? Or maybe they left it for a part two?
The whole project exisits outside the textbook aura of intense commerciality that is linked to big fashion collaborations, instead feeling more akin to a love letter from two avid fans to a brand that inspired them. In the same BOF interview Skewis said “For me and Lev, this is a massive moment for us and a real pinnacle.” This about as soppy as they got though, Palace are of course the physical embodiment of the 100 emoji keeping it real since day dot.
In GQ Lev explained the first time he met Ralph he was caught off guard sporting some some Palidas joggers with a massive tear in them. Not that it mattered. “Ralph don’t care about that shit. He’s so varied in what he wears, do you know what I mean? He looks like a fucking mountaineer or a cowboy half the time.”
There’s something charming about the British-American link up they forged. Palace inspired by Ralph’s take on Americana, Ralph inspired by Ivy League, Ivy League inspired by British cricket jumpers and Oxford shirts. Perhaps its most full circle moment came last christmas when Ralph Lauren released a set of 7 skateboard decks each decorated with a different Polo Bear. Undoubtedly informed by the collaboration with Palace, a turn of phrase about the apprentice becoming the master could be deemed appropriate.
They started the campaign to bring the collection to market with mysterious billboards simply sporting the fused logo and ended it with a horse jumping over a Golf GTI. “And the horse fucking jumps over the car,” Tanju said to GQ. “And then you’re just like, ‘Whoa, that was amazing, man.’ And David Sims takes a photo of it and it becomes a proper thing.” A proper thing, with a proper legacy, explained by Proper. Have that.