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Waxing Over Rugby: A Farewell to Ralph's Youth-Oriented, Collegiate Collection

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.


R.I.P. Rugby, via Rugby Ralph Lauren

Dear Rugby Ralph Lauren,

In the week since your eminent closure has been announced, I've run the full gamut of emotions.

Rage: Where will I go for over-dyed plaid or striped jeans every fall if there's no Rugby store? Incredulity: Where will all those shop-cramming teens that look like they fell out of a Boyz II Men video get their patchwork rugby shirts when the brand shuts down? Sadness: Who will I admire/loathe for successfully pairing ties and tailored jackets with sweatpants if there are no Rugby shop personnel to help me find the right-sized pink chino? I'll miss those guys!

But mostly I've been wistful. I've been with you since the very beginning, Rugby.

The brand bowed in Boston in 2004 with its first shop, a flagship location on Newbury Street. Why Boston? Because Rugby was chasing ivy league (or at least collegiate) prepsters. And across-the-river Harvard aside, Boston is home to about a million colleges and a trillion college students with semi-disposable incomes and an unfulfilled craving for cute clothing.

You have to bear in mind, Boston circa 2004 was not such a great shopping city; at least for the rest of us who weren't frequenting the Burberry and the Chanel shops at the other end of the street. H&M had only just opened; Barneys hadn't happened yet; and the Tannery was still just a place for New Englanders to pick up sensible Mephisto footwear. The fact that Marc Jacobs opened at around the same time just a few blocks away—these were major, major developments.

I, like everyone else who flocked to Rugby, was in Boston for college and post-college (I obviously did not go to Harvard). And it was right on time. I wanted over-the-top preppy. I wanted ridiculous colors and gratuitous layers and stuff that could've been from Brooks Brothers but fit like it was Helmut Lang. And I wanted to wear all that shit while driving around in my very old Volvo and fantasizing that my last name and my nose weren't so blatantly Italian. Plus, it all paired so well with Trovata.

Long story short: Rugby had me at hello.

My first purchases at Rugby that year included: Two classic lambswool V-neck sweaters in decidedly un-classic colors (hot magenta and electric turquoise); a crested blazer with silver buttons in hunter, navy and gold candy stripes; and an awning-striped jersey cardigan in navy and burgundy that literally still fits like a glove and matches 80 percent of my closet.

The blazer—holy hell, I thought I was the hottest shit in that blazer (sample outfit: blue oxford under a hunter green Boston Globe tee shirt with boot-cut jeans and Vans)—has not aged so well. The fit is terrible; but it truly is fantastic enough to warrant extreme tailoring. I could never part with it.

I took the sweaters out of rotation for a few years—those colors sort of became a punch line, didn't they? Plus the frat-set started wearing pink like they owned it so I found purple. But I have a feeling the time is right for those two to resurface. They're still in great shape and the feel is pretty top notch.

That cardigan? I wear that thing all the time. It's starting to show its age but the patina is pretty charming and it still earns compliments left and right.

And the Rugby didn't end there. Currently I'm eying a pair of color-blocked corduroys (if only they weren't wide wale).

It doesn't matter that I'm probably too old to go in there. I love it—the pinpoint tuxedo shirts, the tipped blazers, the skull and cross bone monogram on an otherwise ordinary shirt, the ties that are just the right width. I'll miss Rugby; and I feel for all those impossibly attractive and ludicrously tall shop people who manage to pull-off long johns under wool shorts with a waistcoat and bowler hat.

I'm also super-curious in terms of what the Ralph Machine comes up with to fill this lower-priced Rugby void. They have to start propagating future Purple Label customers somewhere, right?

· A Farewell to Prep: Rugby Ralph Lauren Will Shutter by 2013 [Racked]
· Love, Frank [Racked]