One of the most well-known names in designer clothing is Ralph Lauren.
It all started with the design of the polo shirt, but the designer and company have since evolved in many ways.
The average price of a standard polo shirt from Ralph Lauren costs $100 and above.
Considering several polo shirts are available for easily half that amount and even far less expensive, you may wonder why Ralph Lauren’s clothes are expensive.
Here are 10 reasons Ralph Lauren is expensive.
Why Is Ralph Lauren So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. The Original Polo Design
Ralph Lauren gets the credit for designing the famous polo shirt as it’s known today.
While the designer got his start making ties in the late 1960s, it didn’t take him long to come up with a new type of shirt.
In the early 1970s, he got his break when Bloomingdale’s launched an exclusive store with his line in it.
It was the first time the store had tried selling a fashion designer’s exclusive line before.
The gamble was a success, and Ralph Lauren’s new polo shirt became a hit.
The general public enjoyed this new style of shirt so much that it allowed Lauren to open his own shop only a few years later.
In 1972, he opened up his shop and released the polo shirt in different colors.
Clearly, there’s a lot of history behind the shirt Lauren made as a tribute to his fondness for sports.
When someone buys a Ralph Lauren shirt, and a polo, in particular, you’re essentially buying that history.
You’re also buying a shirt directly from the person who invented it.
That sort of experience is rare, and with rarity comes a higher price tag.
Ralph Lauren is expensive because you’re buying from the original designer of the polo shirt.
2. Celebrity Status
One of the names you’ll hear quite often on the red carpet is Ralph Lauren.
Whether it’s men or women, someone is usually always wearing a suit from this designer.
This brings a sort of celebrity status to his clothes.
If celebrities are wearing his suits and dresses, then that essentially puts anyone wearing his clothes in the same league.
Lauren’s polo shirts and other clothes also have a history in the cinema.
For one, he designed a ’20s-style polo shirt for Robert Redford’s version of The Great Gatsby.
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton also sported polo shirts in Annie Hall which went on to win four Oscars and many other awards.
Clearly, there’s a close association between Ralph Lauren and celebrities.
That also impacts the price of his clothes.
People who want to feel like they’re celebrities will likely shop at his store.
They’re willing to pay the higher price because they know higher expenses are what it takes to live like a celebrity.
The fact that celebrities wear clothes by Ralph Lauren only further justifies the price.
Whenever celebrities associate with a particular product or brand, they give it celebrity status.
People trust celebrities or want to be closer to them or want to feel like them.
As a result, they follow their advice or style.
Knowing the pull it has from celebrities and their fans, the brand is able to set higher prices to match the celebrity status that it has.
Ralph Lauren’s clothes are no exception.
Clothes at Ralph Lauren are expensive because of their celebrity status and because of their cinematic history.
3. Purple Label
In 1994, Ralph Lauren launched the Purple Label.
This was a specific line from the designer that featured high-quality and luxury clothing.
It kept close to his sophisticated tastes and visions.
The Purple Label often has the most expensive clothing for sale.
That’s because the cost of production is quite high.
For one, each piece is handmade.
Expert sewers carefully put together each outfit and ensure they don’t miss out on any of the details.
They’re also custom-made.
You can submit your size to the store and the team will make clothes that fit your body perfectly.
It’s essentially like having your own tailor and fashion designer.
One of the reasons the Purple Label is expensive is because it uses long-staple cotton.
This is a more expensive type of cotton because it’s more processed and comes from higher-quality plants.
Since the plants are of higher quality, it means the farmers likely spent more money ensuring their cotton was the best.
Whether that meant increasing soil health, keeping the cotton safe from pests, or using harvesting means designed to protect the crop, there were more costs added to the final price of cotton.
Ralph Lauren spent more money on that cotton and processed it a bit more to make it even more expensive.
The result is cotton that’s comfy to wear and looks great.
Besides high-quality cotton, the Purple Label also uses mulberry silk.
Mulberry silk is the most expensive type of silk in the world.
It’s also the highest quality.
Mulberry silk is best known for its softness and durability.
It feels gentle against the skin and retains its color and sheen for years.
Depending on the particular outfit, it may use a lot or a little of this type of silk.
The more silk it uses, the more expensive the clothing item.
The Purple Label from Ralph Lauren is easily the most expensive set of clothing styles you’ll find in the store.
An emphasis on high-quality materials, handmade crafts, and Lauren’s own design feature all adds to the price of the collection.
Ralph Lauren is expensive when you shop through his Purple Label collection.
4. Luxury Watches
Ralph Lauren doesn’t only sell clothes.
He also entered the luxury watch market in 2009.
Ralph Lauren watches cost anywhere from over $2,000 to more than $13,000.
Many of his watches end up costing more than his clothing.
One of the reasons his watches are so expensive is the materials used in the watch.
For example, one of the Lauren watches, in the Stirrup Collection, contains rose gold.
The entire frame uses solid rose gold.
Since gold is an expensive material, the watch becomes even more expensive.
This particular watch, for example, is worth $13,300.
Another rose gold watch costs $18,000.
Perhaps one of the most expensive watches is the 45 MM Skeleton Steel watch in the Automotive Collection.
It features a dark black steel interior with exposed gears that costs $50,000.
Besides material costs, the time it takes to make these pieces also add to the price.
Each watch is carefully handmade by an expert watchmaker.
They not only ensure the watch works perfectly, but they also create the watch according to the design that either Lauren or one of the creative executives made.
The results are stunning watches that you can’t get anywhere else.
Whether it’s the bold numbers on the clock, the brand logo of the polo rider, or the exquisite materials, there is a lot of cost and value that goes into their watches.
Luxury watches are also extremely collectible.
Collections can sell for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars.
Since they have high value, collectors want to get their hands on them.
With only a few made each year in each collection, the low supply and high demand only drive up the price further.
Ralph Lauren is expensive because the company also sells luxury watches that contain very expensive materials.
5. PoloTech Shirt
Another reason Ralph Lauren is expensive is because of its focus on active sportswear.
Since Lauren originally designed the polo shirt as a nod to sports, it only makes sense that the company would eventually look to smart athletic wear.
However, this is a slightly crowded market already thanks to watches that can track one’s heart rate and other biometrics.
Ralph Lauren wanted to offer something different.
Instead of wearing a heavy watch on one’s wrist, they made a shirt that tracks your biometrics for you.
There’s a small band on the inside of the shirt that rests against your ribs.
As you work out, the sensor sends information to an app on your phone.
You’re able to read the results and determine how much work or effort you’re putting into your workout.
Even better, the app suggests workouts to you to help you have the most efficient workout possible.
While this all sounds great, you can expect to pay a good amount for the PoloTech shirt.
For one, it contains high-quality materials.
The shirt, itself, is form-fitting and designed to fit snugly to your body.
It’s also carefully made without raised seams that chafe against your skin.
Instead, it has flattened seams.
There’s also the sensor, itself, which connects to the shirt and is relatively lightweight.
All these details add a lot of cost to the shirt.
The sheer cost of the electronics involved makes it expensive.
It’s a shirt designed for those who want to make the most of their workout without needing a personal trainer.
The cost of the shirt is just under $300, which is pretty expensive for a shirt you’re going to be sweating in.
The good news is that you can wash the shirt with your regular laundry.
The bad news is if you want to keep getting the best workout, you’ll probably need one or two shirts since the sensor only works on those specific shirts.
You can’t wear the sensor on a different shirt, for example.
That means you’re going to have to buy a few of these shirts or do a lot of laundry.
Instead of paying $300, you may find yourself needing to drop $900 or even $1,200 depending on how often you go to the gym.
Ralph Lauren is expensive because of the electronics and materials used to make their PoloTech shirt.
Clothing and apparel weren’t enough for Ralph Lauren.
In 1995, as part of his Home collection, Lauren started to produce high-quality paint.
His collection of paints tends to be at a higher price than other brands.
It costs around $38 a gallon for standard paint with special paint starting at $48 a gallon.
If you have an entire house that needs painting, then you could end up spending a lot of money on your paint alone.
There are a few reasons Ralph Lauren’s paint is expensive.
The first has to do with the color quality.
Lauren invests in the finest pigments to make their paints.
It usually means that the paint has a finer grain which produces better color and smooth surfaces.
Since it costs more to make the paint, it also costs more to buy the paint.
Another reason it’s expensive is because of the brand name.
Since Ralph Lauren’s brand correlates with luxury and high quality, then buyers buy it expecting the same thing.
They’re willing to pay more to receive the same kind of experience that they would get when buying Lauren’s clothes.
Because of the higher quality pigments, Ralph Lauren’s paint also lasts longer.
You need to do touchups less often and can enjoy a vibrant color longer.
Since it’s a bit more durable, you won’t have to spend as much money in the long run to maintain it.
This impacts the price because it means you’ll be buying fewer cans of paint in the future.
To make the most of your initial purchase, Ralph Lauren puts a higher price tag on it.
Ralph Lauren is expensive because it uses high-quality pigments to make high-quality paint for your home.
Besides luxury clothing, watches, and paint, Ralph Lauren also launched luxury fragrances in 1978.
Today, L’Oreal handles the distribution of Ralph Lauren fragrances, but you can expect high prices for some of their collections.
That’s because they use top-quality ingredients to make their colognes.
It’s worth noting that Ralph Lauren’s perfumes and fragrances aren’t as expensive as other brands.
However, they’re still more expensive than the average buyer might like to spend.
Their smaller bottles cost around $25 while their 3.4-ounce bottles cost around $100.
Essentially, you’re not getting that much fragrance for your money.
That said, Ralph Lauren’s fragrances tend to last a bit longer than others.
That’s because they sell two different types.
Their more affordable range only lasts for an hour or two.
Their more expensive fragrances last for hours.
They put more ingredients into their more expensive bottles to ensure it lasts for a long time.
Since it lasts longer, you don’t need to reapply as often.
This helps prolong the use of the bottle.
Since you’re not buying a new bottle as quickly, the bottle costs more to make up for it.
In addition, like other luxury brands, Ralph Lauren puts a lot of thought and cost into their bottles.
They’re usually works of art and are worth collecting all on their own.
Some even feature the trademark polo rider on the bottle.
Because of the cost to manufacture these bottles and their collectability, these factors also add to the price of the fragrances.
Ralph Lauren is expensive because of the ingredients and costs of production associated with its fragrances.
8. Restaurant Costs
If you’re in Paris, Chicago, or New York City, you can find a Ralph Lauren restaurant.
These restaurants and pubs opened in 1999, 2010, and 2014, respectively.
Each features high-quality food with signature drinks.
Since it’s associated with Ralph Lauren, you can expect high prices on their menus.
One of the reasons Ralph Lauren is expensive is the costs associated with running a restaurant or pub.
Food costs, alone, drive up menu prices.
For example, when certain foods are expensive due to shortages or weather problems, the menu item using that ingredient is also going to be expensive.
Ralph Lauren also has to pay its employees well since it expects its workers to give its dinner guests the best dining experience.
Labor costs also include executive chefs with an eye for detail.
Since Ralph Lauren has a reputation to keep for providing high-quality experiences, the company has to invest in itself to provide that sort of experience.
With investment comes operational costs.
This cost is certainly reflected in menu prices, but it reflects also in the rest of Ralph Lauren’s marketing empire.
If something goes poorly in one part of the market, then the company can use its revenue from elsewhere to help boost that part until it starts performing well again.
Increased prices in one part of the empire might be a result of a struggling part in another part of the empire.
For example, Ralph Lauren might have a slight increase in its clothing if its restaurants aren’t performing well.
Ralph Lauren is expensive because of food costs and other operational costs associated with running a restaurant.
As fashion companies look to do their part in creating a sustainable future, Ralph Lauren is no different.
In 2019, they launched their Design the Change campaign.
In it, they outlined their plans to support sustainable sourcing for their clothing and other products.
They also doubled down on improving the quality of their clothes to ensure they last even longer.
The longer that clothes last, the less clothing they need to make and the fewer resources they use.
They also pledged to move forward with new designs that are environmentally friendly and promote the reduction of carbon footprints.
All these changes are great, but they come with costs.
It costs the company more money to work with sustainable farmers and manufacturers since it costs them more money, too.
To cover the cost of becoming sustainable and more environmentally friendly, Ralph Lauren’s prices increased.
Ralph Lauren is expensive due to its focus on sustainability.
10. Marketing Costs
A final reason Ralph Lauren is expensive is its marketing costs.
Ralph Lauren usually spends around $200 million on advertising and marketing each year.
In 2021, they spent $265 million on marketing.
Lauren spends marketing money on celebrities, TV ads, and sponsorships.
Most often, they end up partnering with certain sports like Tennis.
The athletes will wear their clothing or brand, the stadium will often feature a Lauren logo, and there may be other marketing props around for the camera to notice.
Because of the sheer cost of marketing, Ralph Lauren has to earn enough revenue to cover those costs.
The company sells its products at high prices to cover its marketing costs.
Ralph Lauren has a reputation for high-quality products that range from clothing to restaurants.
Because of its name and history as a producer of high-quality goods, it often comes with an expensive price tag.
Most of the expense comes from high-quality ingredients or materials and the cost of marketing its brand.