Ralph Lauren's Plastic Polo
One of the most enlightened fashion brands, Ralph Lauren’s new sustainability initiative transforms plastic pollution into environmentally-friendly polos.
Here at The Rake, we love Ralph Lauren not only for the brand’s brilliant products, but for its longstanding commitment to corporate social responsibility and philanthropy. Eponymous founder Mr. Lauren has been deservedly lauded for his generous giving to charities including breast cancer treatment, disaster aid, prevention of animal cruelty, advancing education, poverty relief, and assisting families of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. During two decades with the company, his son David Lauren, who serves as RL’s chief innovation officer, has spearheaded ever-greater engagement with an array of humanitarian causes. “As a citizen of the world, I feel it is of fundamental importance to give back. This is how I was raised,” David told The Rake during an interview several years ago. For an engaged, contemporary business, he said, performing charitable acts “is essential. As a company, it’s a wonderful thing to do.” Last month, Ralph Lauren launched a fantastic new environmental initiative, the Earth Polo shirt. These eco-friendly iterations of the brand’s signature mesh polo are each made from fibres recycled from 12 plastic bottles. “Plastic waste is a major issue threatening the environment — we want to be part of the solution and utilise an innovative approach to create something valuable,” David Lauren said of the launch, revealing that the company has committed to recycling 170 million plastic bottles within the next few years. The shirts are currently available in four colours — the same hues you’ll see looking at Earth from space: navy blue, white, baby blue and forest green — and are dyed via a carbon-based process that uses no water.
“Every day we’re learning about what’s happened with global warming and what’s happening all around the world, and our employees and our customers are really feeling that it’s time to step up and make a difference,” David Lauren said. “We recognise that our products inevitably have an impact on our environment, and we know we have a responsibility to minimise that impact.” To that end, the company has committed to exclusively using sustainably sourced cotton and 100 per cent recyclable or sustainably sourced packaging materials by 2025. They’ll also convert the use of all virgin poly-fiber to recycled poly-fiber by the same year. Although they’re made from recycled plastic, Earth Polo shirts are designed to be equally as soft and comfortable as regular RL polos — and to wear-in just as beautifully. “When Ralph founded our company more than 50 years ago, he did so with the idea that whatever we create is meant to be worn, loved, and passed on for generations,” Ralph Lauren’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer Halide Algaoz explained. “It’s with this spirit of timelessness that we approach sustainability.”