Preppy staple is big as 20-somethings switch from streetwear to scrumwear. There are limited edition trainers and smartphones that can be used as social currency by twentysomethings. But what about rugby shirts? This sports staple is being reintroduced as a cult favorite, loved by David Hockney and private schoolboys.
Secondhand clothing platforms are selling a lot of rugby shirts. Advocates for the trend want limited edition designs and cult classics by brands like Polo Ralph Lauren or Gant.
Depop, a secondhand clothing site that claims 90% of its users are below 26, reported a 40% increase in sales of rugby shirts from July to August, with Ralph Lauren and Benetton the most sought-after brands.
Beyond Retro, a second-hand shop that sells vintage football strips, has seen a rise in sales. “The high demand of this shirt is related to the resurgence in the preppy look we have seen over the last few months,” says Viviana Atard, global curation leader for Depop. Attard also attributes the increased demand for pre-loved pieces to a post-pandemic desire for looser, more casual clothing. As brands seek to share their passion for classic sportswear with a new generation, they are finding rugby shirts in stockrooms. Gant from the USA is one of them. Its Ivy League aesthetic has been achingly out-of-date in recent years. However, Gant will be back in 2021 with a relaxed new image, in which the rugby shirt plays an important role.
Supreme and Palace, two of the most cult-skating brands, are joining the fray. Both have sold out styles that continue to be in demand on the secondhand market.
Elgar Johnson, a menswear stylist, says that rugby shirts “have been overlooked over the years.” It’s refreshing to see sportswear that’s not a rehashed football strip getting some attention, regardless of whether brands bring them back with irony or not.
M&S was less concerned about symbolism when it decided to revive St Michael’s brand by creating a rugby shirt with the logo. The marketing strategy was designed to appeal to young consumers. It follows the discovery on resale websites that clothing with St Michael’s logo is in high demand. M&S bosses hope that Justin Bieber (and Dua Lipa) will boost sales.