It’s only been a couple months now since Ralph Lauren decided to close a major chapter in their edition of the preppy handbook by shuttering Rugby after eight uneven years, so it’s tough to say what sort of legacy the brand will have a decade or so from now. Only time will tell, whether or not Rugby will be looked back on will the same kind eyes as Hickey, Nom de Guerre and other bygone millennial brands, but I am happy to see that in the brand’s immediate wake, it’s the style of Rugby’s two torch bearers, Lee Norwood and John Fiske, that’s left the strongest impression. I always felt that Rugby’s concept was best represented not by some long-winded mission statement, or by any individual collection or pieces, but rather by its designers. No one could make the Rugby look seem natural quite like style Norwood and Fiske, and so I’m glad that the brand was immortalized through shots of each guy wearing what Jeff Hilliard informally dubbed “The Rugby uniform.”
There’s a lot going on in each outfit, but to begin with, they both look entirely comfortable. Granted that’s how they should look considering they crafted this style, but nonetheless it takes a lot to dress like a slimmed-down version of an Apparel Arts illustration and not look like you’re wearing a costume. While I can’t tell if Fiske (at the top) is wearing one, I know for the sure that Norwood is sporting a Rugby made in Italy sportcoat that was produced by Caruso. They cost a mere six-hundred dollars when they were released a few years back, they were fully canvassed, and between the flap patch pockets below, the natural shoulder up top, and the subtle patterning, I think it might be the greatest piece Rugby ever produced. Aside from that, both men actually make a contrast collar shirt (with a collar pin no less) seem wearable, and while I prefer Fiske’s engine turn belt buckle to Norwood’s suspenders, I do like his belt-less look, although in that case Norwood should’ve probably lost the belt loops. The darker trousers balance the complexity of the top out, particularly with the slight taper (alright maybe Fiske has more of an aggressive taper) and a breakless finish. The lighter shoes – for Fiske, classic white bucks, and for Norwood, saddle shoes that somehow don’t look like they’re better suited for a toddler – provide a solid anchor for the rest of the look. No matter how the Rugby story gets twisted about from here, it’s nice to know that these two photos encapsulated the brand at its best.