(Re)Playing the Rugby
It is easy to explain the history of clothes the name of which clearly indicates the origin, especially if it is about the sport. You know, the obvious things: a baseball cap, a cricket sweater, a polo coat, a
polo shirt - no, that’s about tennis actually - or a rugby shirt.
Fortunately, in the case of the latter, everything is pretty self-explanatory..
Interestingly, it is also one of the rather unique examples of clothing that has remained virtually unchanged over the last 100 years. Although actual rugby players have long abandoned traditional shirts in favor of modern technical clothing, the civilian, "fashion" pieces look practically identical to the sports gear used in the 1920s and 1930s. Cut from thick cotton jersey, either striped or plain, featuring contrasting collar with a short polo placket - all these characteristic elements have survived to this day and are the main features of the rugby shirts as we know them.
We have to admit that the whole story is pretty interesting, all this British and American heritage, sportswear to casualwear evolution... but no, that's not what we will be talking about today.
This time it won’t be about the classics.
Unlike many clothes in our menswear bubble - suits, OCBD shirts, high-waisted trousers, just to name a few - rugby shirts did appeal to us not thanks to their humble origins, their long history, nor their Ivy style connections. What makes them appealing to us is how they were present and worn throughout the last two decades of the 20th century, the 1980s and 1990s.
Although many perceive this era - the 90s especially - negatively, sometimes even as "dark ages" of the so-called classic menswear, it was actually a golden era for the rugby shirts. When we think about them, we think of Princess Diana, colorful (and controversial) United Colors of Benetton campaigns, Ralph Lauren ads... and rappers wearing RL clothes (sometimes Polo Sport, sometimes Polo) in a way that has not been seen before.
By the way, I recommend watching this short documentary about the Lo-Lifes subculture which makes it a bit easier to understand how close preppy might be to hip-hop - but maybe later, not to go off topic right now.
Yes, I know - it may not be a style that seems familiar to everyone here, but it definitely deserves a second look.
Appreciating classics does not rule out looking for inspiration in other, less obvious places; just like in the case of movies or music, you don't have to limit yourself to one genre.
We dress smart, but we also listened to hip-hop - including quite a lot of MF DOOM, as you can probably tell - and we are open to experimenting and mixing styles.
And that's probably why we played with the idea a bit: what we made is not a rugby shirt, it is a rugby sweater rather.
We did it our own way, drawing from streetwear but sticking to some well known details from the classic menswear world; we played with the form to find a golden mean between what originally inspired us and what would be a safe-but-boring addition to everyone's wardrobe.
First of all, our rugbys are knitted like sweaters, not cut-and-sewn from jersey like sweatshirts and traditional rugby shirts. Although we used a thicker yarn than we normally use for polo shirts, these are still lighter than the original, allowing to be worn comfortably both directly on bare skin and as an intermediate layer. For buttons, we used mother of pearl instead of a typical rubber. Another difference is the collar that shares the color with the stripes on the body - and waht is interesting, you may treat it not only as a mean to calm down the design a bit, but also a small nod to the history, because the contrast there was not always a rule at the beginning of the 20th century.
The ribbing is also a nod to the classic style. Unusual for rugby shirts in general, our 10 cm wide ribbing is inspired by vintage sweaters from several decades ago. This feature allows you to elegantly roll up the cuff (if it is too long) and keeps the bottom at the right place (especially when you move your arms vigorously), whether tucked inside the pants or left on top. A small detail, but an easily enjoyed one; even more so when wearing clothes that are inherently practical.
Speaking of practical use - we may not encourage you to play sports in our rugby sweater (let's be real here), but we definitely see it as something suitable for activities. It will be comfortable in the morning running errands, playing around with your children later, spending a lazy afternoon on the sofa and paying an evening visit to the bar. When it's warm, it works as a polo shirt, and when it's cold, it works as a sweater.
In other words: it can work equally good with a pair of sweatpants as it can with a sportcoat.
For me, the pictures we took with Dominika and Dawid perfectly capture the vibe of our rugby sweaters. These aren't exactly classic outfits, but that's the point; it all feels homely (rather cosy than common) and effortless (but in a good way). Despite the easiness, you can actually see the effort and a certain intentionality in an outfit that some old t-shirt would lack.
By the way, as long as the weather outside stays really cold, it is at home that I like to wear Poszetka’s rugby the most. Sure, I also wear mine with sportcoats (and a blazer, we're not giving up on the preppy style here!) when I go out, but I often reach for it when I don't even have anywhere to go. I do it just want to feel better, by introducing a dose of color into my outfit on a gray winter day - dressing nice, but not too nice.
I think that's the point - these rugby jumpers are something to spice up an ordinary everyday outfit, no matter what it means to someone.
If you are always in a sportcoat, this will be a very casual item for you. If you don't have any suit in your wardrobe, you'll probably treat it as something nice, perhaps even dressy. Either way, it will stand out from the background, that's for sure - regardless of what that would be.
At the end of the day, it's all about you (re)playing our rugby your way.