Few silhouettes have been adopted by—and become icons of—as disparate a range of subcultures as the polo shirt.
First worn by British colonists in 19th century India—no surprises here—as polo-playing attire, the polo shirt was brought back to Britain by these same colonists. However, what we now know as the polo shirt is not based on these early polo shirts—which resembled what we would now call a button-down shirt. Ironically, the polo shirt in its contemporary sense is more a French creation than a British one. Frustrated by the constricting attire worn by tennis players at the time, in 1926 René Lacoste created a new shirt to be worn on the court constructed from piqué cotton with a flat collar and buttoned placket. And so the polo as we know it was born.
It was, however, back in Britain where the polo shirt became affiliated with a lineage of distinctly British subcultures. In the mid 1960s, the polo was among the fashion items that constituted the wardrobe of the Mods, a subculture revolving around scooters and music such as R & B, Ska, and Jazz. The Mods’ adoption of the polo shirt was also the first association of the shirt with controversy. Along with the Rockers subculture with whom they feuded, the Mods contributed to a moral panic about youth in post-war Britain. Also in the 60s’ and during a revival in the Thatcher’s Britain of the ‘80s, most notoriously, the Fred Perry polo became part of the uniform of choice of skinheads subculture—members of a working-class subculture heavily influenced by Jamaican rude boys—who combined early elements of Mod fashion with more traditional working-class attire such as Dr. Martens boots and suspender straps.
Fast forward twenty years and the polo made an appearance in a completely different cultural milieu as an emblem of ‘backpacker rap,’ a suburb-friendly alternative to gangster rap spearheaded by a young Kanye West.
Double Double is proud to offer the next development in the long evolution of the polo via the ongoing collaboration between Fred Perry and Raf Simons. With this acclaimed collection—of which polo shirts are the central pieces—the Belgian innovator takes the definitive Fred Perry polo, applying avant-garde design elements to this celebrated silhouette. Taking account of streetwear’s referential spirit, Simons asserts the Fred Perry polo’s continued relevance in global fashion while paying homage to its British roots. Discover the latest from Fred Perry x Raf Simons here.
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