Polo University Club
Menswear brands are constantly adding new labels now, lines and licenses targeting ever more exclusive or democratic markets with fresh derivatives of their logo. I’d heard of Polo Ralph Lauren, Polo Sport, Chaps, Purple Label, Black Label, Lauren, Rugby, and on—but not until I started selling and buying vintage did I see a label for Polo University Club (like the one above). Without so much as Googling it, I can say I only started seeing the label on mostly traditional sport coats and suits with 80s accent colors, cut and silver union tag–of solid but no special quality–and also only in smaller sizes so far. The ‘University’ moniker combined with the prevalent sizing and middleweight style and quality made me think these sport coats were marketed as starter staple jackets for college guys in the early 1980s. How long did the line last and what was its relationship to the parent brand? Did it include any items beyond suits and sport coats?
Threads of men’s online style forums (styleforum.net, Ask Andy About Clothes, The Fedora Lounge) confirm the easy observations above and tell how Polo University Club was licensed in the early 80s to the same company making Chaps at the time, the Greif Cos., and was constructed of the same or slightly better fused quality–still significantly better than Chaps or entry level suiting is now. The Ralph Lauren Corporation supervised the styling and worked with the manufacturer to capture the Polo expression in an inexpensive suit that would not compete with the designer line. This moderate, youthful cut features a soft shoulder, low button stance and suppressed waist. The multitude of Etsy and eBay listings indicate no extension of the line beyond the familiar suits and sport coats. Plenty of ridiculously affordable listings—along with the timelessly moderate styling and solid quality–also make Polo University Club a good vintage buy. From the mid-80s into the 90s, the “Club” was dropped from the name, and eventually so was the style and quality, so you might avoid “Polo University” labels and stick with “Polo University Club.” I find some of the accent colors dated in a not great way, so look out for a scheme that’s tolerable for you.