It is a market we can disrupt, and the facts are: In the UK branded polo shirts are the top gifting item for men, on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. A polo shirt is a product that most men have had, understand and can judge the relative values of.
A short history of the Polo shirt:
It all started with Lacoste for the utilitarian purpose of tennis.
Fred Perry added a sartorial edge & a new market space was born.
Ralph Lauren added style, refinement & aspiration and today’s standards were set
Abercrombie added attention to detail, modern style and market innovation.
The Fraternity & Co introduces old world luxury, values of the Gentleman, and technology.
There are 4 key polo shirt brands: Lacoste, Fred Perry, Ralph Lauren, & Abercrombie & Fitch, and most people have owned a polo shirt from at least one. Each has brought about key market innovations that hold a special place in the 'consumer psyche' essentially by creating or setting a trend.
Similarly, we hope to start a trend based on historical innovations that set brands apart. The first thing to know about the polo shirt is it started life as a tennis shirt; In 1933 Rene Lacoste (Tennis Champion) drew up the template that we still use today. Cuffed sleeves, soft collar, side skirt and 'Le crocodile', arguably the first commercial use of a logo on a shirt, however his key contribution was the choice of cotton pique the leading technological fabric of its day and still today.
19 years later in 1952 Fred Perry sought to take advantage of his Wimbledon success, and to differentiate his line, they tested different fabrics, but ended up using cotton pique because of its excellent properties, however advancements of the day meant better styling; contrasting coloured stripes on collar and cuffs & stitching directly onto the fabric, rather than iron on as Lacoste's alligator was. It became a sartorial hit and street wear crossover.
The die was cast, and in 1972 Ralph Lauren added attention to detail, refinement, aspiration & packaging which has come to define the polo shirt market today. The core of the polo shirt buying public just don’t seem to want a run of the mill polo shirt, they want a shirt with association to status, heritage or class.
Fact; Consistent performers in the polo shirt market are the brands that are perceived to be upmarket, whereas fashion brands are conspicuously in and out seasonally. This was successfully borne out by Abercrombie & Fitch (Heritage 1892) acquisition 1988 and repositioning 1992 as preppy teen wear.
They brought both tangible and intangible innovations which are the hallmark of today’s polo shirts. The histories and pathways of all these brands has created an indelible heritage that has gone into creating our polo shirt nicknamed the "Legacy" a result of fine tuning all the best elements to create the most refined polo shirt to date.
Polo shirts representing status have always been de rigueur; a fashion staple and a fashion statement. They represent you, your lifestyle and aspirations. The polo shirt is a fashion staple steeped in heritage, and since the 30’s, every decade has introduced a new polo shirt brand, culminating in today’s market for premium polo shirts.
The Fraternity & Co’s polo shirt is a symbolic construct of our social network; The modern Gentlemen. Deconstructing the heritage of the polo shirt took us to an essentially overlooked feature: the button.
Setting us apart from other polo shirt brands, our buttons will be instantly recognisable and enable fellows to receive Access, Networking, Privileges, Rewards, Discounts, Benefits & Offers (AN/PRDBOs) throughout London initially.
In order to hallmark Legacy and Founding Fellows in London, we will release 12,000 Sovereign Black Limited Edition ‘Legacy’ polo shirts exclusive to the Founding Fellowship. It’s a Gentleman’s black that will give fellows distinction within the market place, with the addition of two formal military gilt buttons, made by craftsmen using the same age-old, traditional methods the Victorians used of die stamping, a technique that is both costly and time-consuming.
The buttons define the shirt and make it look dressier whilst also conveying unequivocal refinement. Compared to our competitors, The Fraternity & Co ‘Legacy’ polo shirt makes a normal buttoned polo shirt look passé. Starting a new trend, led by you: The Founding Fellowship, making the Gentleman instantly recognisable in the market place.
We believe that the Founding Fellow buttons will be highly sought after, not only because of what they represent, but also because they give Founding Fellows privileges within the network, eventually becoming internationally accepted for Fraternity privileges too.
Buttons have been sought since their invention; Kings, Nobles, Countries, and Military have all used them to commemorate important occasions, victories, status, or inaugurations (The George Washington 1789 inaugural button is currently the most collectable button in America.) Buttons from the latter part of the 16th century are worth what collectors will pay for them. Rare and good examples of 18th century buttons are currently going for at least £4,000, and buttons from the 20th century are fetching from £5.
For the first time, a shirt will be an invaluable marketing tool for the wearer rather than just the brand. This is a shirt that has been created to open doors; it is a modern calling card, denotes by-invitation, and has been designed for Gentlemen. It allows the wearer fraternity access, networking, privileges, rewards, discounts, benefits & offers at chosen establishments throughout London, such as designated pubs, bars, restaurants & clubs.