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50 Years of Ralph Lauren’s Iconic Polo Shirt

From Muhammad Ali to Pharrell Williams, how a single silhouette continues to inspire generation after generation.

Writer: Brock Cardiner

2022 marks 50 years of Ralph Lauren’s iconic Polo shirt. To celebrate the style’s 50th anniversary, Ralph Lauren opens his archive of vintage Polos exclusively to GOAT. Our curated selection features unique pieces from the ’90s, 2000s and 2010s repurchased from customers by Ralph Lauren’s vintage team. Signature Ralph Lauren themes are visible throughout the collection, from Tour and Sport to Military, Nautical and more. Highlights include a shoe motif-printed Polo from 1991, a double Pony logo style inspired by British royal dress from 2009 and an embroidered piece informed by souvenir jackets from 2017. Discover the full Polo collection here.

A rib-knit collar. An extended shirttail. An embroidered logo at the left chest. Few styles in modern fashion are as immediately recognizable as Ralph Lauren’s Polo shirt. Created by the American designer only a few years after founding his eponymous brand, the silhouette has become a cross-generational icon since it first appeared on store shelves in 1972, embraced by everyone from Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama to Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeff Koons.

Today, the Polo shirt is synonymous with the brand itself, favored for its chameleon-like ability to be casual, luxurious, accessible and aspirational all at once. And like so many of the brand’s products over the years, the shirt’s groundbreaking success can be traced back to Lauren’s design philosophy—a philosophy rooted in creating real clothes for real people.

As the Polo shirt rounds the corner on 50 years of history, we recount the past, present and future of the style, tracing its journey from design innovation to global phenomenon.