Last year was a big one for Ralph Lauren. The designer celebrated his 50th anniversary with a number of memorable moments that included a celebrity-laden runway show in Central Park, special anniversary capsule collections and even throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.
It also marked a continuation of the company’s association with the Olympic Games, where it once again dressed the American team for the opening and closing ceremonies.
The looks that the athletes wore in South Korea last winter were the starting point for a new wearable technology program that is being introduced this week.
“It all started with the Olympics,” said David Lauren, chief innovation officer of Ralph Lauren. The patriotic puffer jackets that the company created for the athletes turned out to be quite popular among the participants and the few consumers that were able to get their hands on the “handful” of pieces the company made available to the public.
“We got tons of calls,” Lauren said. “And they were selling on eBay for $8,000.”
In addition to looking cool, the jackets also heated up to keep the athletes warm during their time outdoors.
And now, Ralph Lauren is producing the jackets commercially and infusing them with an updated heating component that is controlled wirelessly through Bluetooth on a new RL Heat app.
Ralph Lauren is not the first to offer outerwear with heating elements, but this iteration features a heat-dispersive silver lining with an American flag printed in conductive carbon and silver ink. The battery is powered by Mophie and plugs into the jacket’s inside pocket. It offers adjustable warming levels and heat that will last up to three hours at its highest level. The jacket can be charged with the Mophie power bank or any USB power source. The battery can also be used to charge phones.
In addition to controlling the temperature of the jackets, the app also displays the current temperature.
The design of the jackets is based on a Polo Jeans parka — colloquially called the NASA moon jacket — that was created in 1997 and inspired by the pressure suits worn on space missions. These jackets are now popular in the resale market where they sell for upwards of $2,500.
The timing is especially apropos since 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. As a result of this “homage” to that groundbreaking moment, David Lauren said, the new, limited-edition, spacesuit-inspired jackets being offered in two models: a Polo 11 heated jacket (get it?) in a pullover style in white, and the Glacier Down jacket, a zip-up style available in navy or silver.
“What could be more important than the 50th anniversary of the moon landing?,” David Lauren said, adding that the jackets are “distinctly Ralph Lauren and Polo, but inspired by the greatness of NASA.”
The Polo 11 jacket will launch first and retail for $1,098. It will be sold on the Polo app and in select Ralph Lauren stores in the U.S. as well as on the company e-commerce site in Europe and China, WeChat in Asia and specialty stores globally.
That will be followed by the Glacier down, which will be offered in either navy or silver and retail for $898. That jacket will be sold at Ralph Lauren stores globally, as well as at several wholesale retailers internationally and the Polo app in the U.S.
The Polo 11 will launch on Jan. 24.