Anyone who has walked into a genuine Ralph Lauren store will be aware that A) the price is vastly different to the SA version and B) the horse is running the other way. Apparently this is not widely known.
I was somewhat astounded at the supposedly revealing headline in Times Media, that read ‘Polo SA Not Polo Ralph Lauren.’ Surely this topic has come up for everyone during a lunch at some stage over the past couple decades?
Times Media confirmed their findings:
But what happens when the iconic brand you are buying is not actually what you think it is? Like finding out that Polo in South Africa has no link to the multi-billion-dollar Polo Ralph Lauren brand in the US.
Like the Cape Town businessman who first alerted me, my colleagues were peeved when I broke the news to them. They had all either bought Polo products – or wanted to – and had assumed that the items sold locally were part of Ralph Lauren’s classic international range.
It is an easy mistake to make. The two brands share a name and a similar range of premium goods. But, more significantly, they use an almost identical motif: a polo player on a horse.
The key difference between the two motifs is that on the local Polo products the horse runs to the right. The Ralph Lauren horse runs to the left.
It turns out that Polo South Africa – which was founded in 1976 – owns the local trademark rights to the word “Polo” and the horse motif.
Ralph Lauren, who launched the famous Polo brand in 1967 and boasts stores in the world’s major cities, is barred from selling any of its own Polo goods, except perfume, in this country.
Does this blurred distinction not have the potential, at best, to confuse consumers or, at worst, mislead them?
Cape Town businessman Rob Laurie learned that Polo South Africa was not linked to the US brand only last year when taking a visiting French businessman to a local Polo store.
The associate “lost his luggage and I had to take him to buy some Polo clothing, which is virtually all he wears”, said Laurie.
When the visitor told Laurie the Polo garments in South Africa were “not genuine [not Polo Ralph Lauren]” , Laurie dismissed him as being “a typical French snob” and didn’t give it another thought. But when two business associates later backed up the Frenchman’s claims, he contacted Polo South Africa, which confirmed the two brands were unrelated.
So just to clarify, Ralph Lauren Polo shirts have a horse that runs INTO the chest, whereas the Polo SA horse runs OUT of the chest and the legs are different.
Here is the genuine article:
Here is the locally produced brand which a lot of people think is Ralph Lauren.
But it’s not.
What’s wrong with your horse?
Why’s it running away?
Not that we’re stopping you buying Polo SA – you go right ahead.
We won’t though – as it is a grossly confusing brand and I am of the belief that there are a LOT of people buying it under the misconception that the two brands are one and the same – as was outlined in the Times Media article, which prompted this post.
I must be honest though, I did buy some Polo SA golf shirts as part of my butler’s uniform.
I do hope he doesn’t read this.
We’ve come to the conclusion that people who wear Polo SA either A) don’t care that it’s different or B) don’t know any better or C) are aware but think their friends don’t know any better.
And the local Polo SA website here – https://www.polo.co.za/
If you want the real thing, ASOS ship for free worldwide – check out the golf shirts here. They’re about R1,200 each.
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