We think Ralph Lauren’s new Upcycled collection is a smart move

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Polo Ralph Lauren's new capsule collection champions American manufacturing, thrifting and intelligent design in one fell swoop

Just when you think you’ve seen everything from Ralph Lauren, our favourite purveyor of the American Dream comes up with another smart idea. News just in that the menswear powerhouse is undertaking its first foray into upcycling, proof that RL is as plugged into the style zeitgeist today as it ever has been.

Launching exclusively in Selfridges, Ralph Lauren has created a capsule made up of upcycled vintage staples, mixed with military surplus statement pieces. Each garment is made from vintage Polo Ralph Lauren items, sourced by RL’s team, which are cut-together with military styles to create a collection that channels Mr Lauren’s well-documented love of army surplus menswear. Each piece is finished with a variety of hand-applied badges, too, reflecting the current craze for retro branded streetwear. No two pieces are exactly the same, either; each is finished differently. In other words, this collection is a Lo-Head’s dream.

Perhaps the smartest thing about the capsule is the way it’s been made. In today’s embattled luxury market with its throw-away consumer culture, it’s easy to write off designer powerhouses like Ralph Lauren as out of touch. Collections like this, and its on-point sportswear capsules earlier this year, prove that RL remains attuned to the concerns and cravings of switched-on consumers. Today, thrifting, up-cycling and reusing is a rare thing for a luxury brand to take on, and this collection demonstrates a sensibility that many big menswear brands often lack.

What’s more, Ralph Lauren could easily have produced a military surplus collection in a nameless factory overseas, but instead, it’s brought the capsule home. Every piece is redesigned by the brand’s core design team in New York, and then reworked by hand in an artisanal workshop in Brooklyn. The result is a series of unique garments that feel honest and authentic, and the collection’s weathered, patch-work looks make a fashionable statement, too.

If you’d like try some on, Selfridges is the place to do it, but don’t mess about – Ralph Lauren’s limited editions never hang around for long.

Three of our favourite Up-cycled pieces

Ralph Lauren upcylced army jacketThe Upcycled Military Jacket, £1,349

Ralph Lauren polo upcycled chinosThe Upcycled Military Pant, £345

Ralph Lauren upcycled rugby shirtThe Upcycled Rugby Shirt, £435

The collection is available between 7 – 21 September at Selfridges Oxford Street, and in limited availability online at