How to make a thrift store for vintage Ralph Lauren clothes

Shopping at thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales can be overwhelming. With the sheer volume of things, how do you know where to start? How to spot the gems among all the trash?

As a professional dealer who has been combing through thrift stores for nearly 30 years, I can help. If you’re ready to cut your shopping time in half, score bigger deals, or walk away with some bragging-worthy finds you can flip for cash, read on.

From hard-to-find household items to lucrative resales, anything in my “Thrift Shop Like a Pro” series is considered a BOLO (“On the Prowl”) item. When you find it, buy it!

Featured Find: Vintage Ralph Lauren Clothing

When I was in high school, Ralph Lauren was the brand to wear if you wanted to be part of the crowd. On par with other must-have labels like Benetton and Guess, Ralph Lauren was the ticket to higher social status. Sure, it all sounds ridiculous 35 years later, but the struggle was real. Lots of kids have pinned their hopes (and spent a lot of their paychecks) on this little embroidered Polo pony.

Founded in 1967 by Ralph Lauren, the company began selling ties. In 1968 a full line of menswear was introduced. The rest, as they say, is history.

It may not be the “it” tag for high school kids anymore, but Ralph Lauren is still going strong. And vintage pieces from my youth (from the late 80s to the 90s) are being rediscovered by a new generation. Best of all, the brand is plentiful in most thrift stores – ignored by many shoppers who equate it with all things yuppie.

Why buy it?

Even at the height of its popularity, Ralph Lauren never let quality slip away. Vintage shirts, jeans and jackets have held up well over the years, and the classic style means most pieces are wearable today. In an age of fast fashion and questionable quality, the brand looks and feels better than ever.

If you want to resell thrift store finds for profit, add Ralph Lauren clothing to your shopping list. Some highly sought-after pieces can fetch many times the original selling price.

On eBay, this Indian sweater from 1994 sold for $710 and this rodeo pattern denim jacket brought in $425.88. The prices are just as high on Etsy, where that 1987 rugby jersey is listed for $300 and sellers are asking $799 for it Indian blanket wrap skirt.

What to look for

Ralph Lauren garments are well branded and the branding often carries over to buttons, zipper pulls and other design details. Though there is several brands within Ralph Lauren Corp., some sell better than others. Tags I always look for include:

  • Polo: These early ties were sold under the Polo brand, although the iconic Polo Pony did not appear until 1971.
  • Polo country: Although little information is available on this, Country appears to have been a short-lived Polo sub-brand. The designs were less sport-oriented and more rustic.
  • Polo Bear: It is both a sub-brand of Polo and a design theme that dates back to 1991. Vintage Polo Bear sweaters can resell for hundreds of dollars.
  • Double RL: Launched in 1993, RRL offers a modern take on American ranch clothing. Vintage RRL commands a high resale price.
  • Purple Ralph Lauren label: A high-end clothing line launched in 1995, purple label offers seasonal collections made with high-end fabrics.

If you are looking for parts to resell, shop strategically. I focus on wardrobe essentials that aren’t stained, faded, or heavily worn. The following vintage Ralph Lauren pieces are always in demand:

  • Rugby jerseys
  • Sweaters
  • Denim and wool jackets
  • Leather coats

Pro tip: Sizes run large in all Ralph Lauren lines. If you resell clothing online, be sure to specify the actual measurements of each garment. For example, when listing a shirt, include measurements for chest, shoulder, sleeve, and total length (collar to hem).

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