I will gladly confess that not only was I wrong to worry about the quality and concept of Rugby, I was wrong to wait so long to get in there. It is a worthy, perfectly frayed, successor to the Polo marquis – a sort of edgy English prep school style. Just replace the iconic polo pony with the skull and crossbones and you get the idea.
Think of the cluby atmosphere of an ancient private school, its common room littered with the wonderful detritus of generations gone by; that is what the Rugby store evokes. In many ways, the place feels more “Polo” than Polo is now. It’s preppy but rough around the edges, beaten up a bit and passed down for two or three generations. Lots of black and white rugby and crew team photos from the 1930s, patched furniture, worn-in sports equipment and knocked around pool tables. While not mine, the picture above gives you an idea of the atmosphere (not sure who took it, otherwise I would provide credit).
Where Polo is elegant and refined, Rugby is scratched and dented. It has dirt under its fingernails from being trapped at the bottom of a scrum – and it likes it. In a word, it’s perfect. This is coming from someone slightly outside their target demographic by the way – I’m now closer to 40 than 35.
And I didn’t walk away empty handed, I am happy to say. I picked up a blue rugby with white cross of Saint Andrew stitched across the front and beat up looking mail sack of a messenger bag that was on sale. I opted out of the customized patch service, though I may give it a try later. The clothing is well made and solid; my rugby shirt feels virtually bulletproof.
My only real complaint is on the women’s side of the shop – or should I say girl’s side of the shop. Great stuff for women – cool, sexy (in that “I borrowed it from my boyfriend” way), and cute, all at the same time. But the clothing is essentially cut for the body of a 12-year old. It verges on insulting for most average body types.
I have to say, it really ticked me off that as a man, I had no problem finding a size and cut that fit me just fine, while the women could barely find a pair of socks that fit comfortably. The perfectly normal sized women I was with were ready to lay down some serious plastic but had to pass because they could barely fit into the “large” shirts. Rugby carries no XL for ladies by the way; so essentially you need to be the real world equivalent of a medium. There were a small number women’s rugbys that came in a “boyfriend” cut, but they were essentially a men’s small.
A note to David Lauren: don’t go through the effort to create an excellent, creative and desirable brand and then make a conscientious effort to alienate a large and viable market segment. People other than college students like the Rugby brand, throw us a bone and add some real world sizing in the lineup.