The polo shirt occupies a curiously unique place in fashion history. Polo shirt prices have actually gone down since they were invented by Rene Lacoste back in the 1920s. These novel shirts offered tennis players, and later polo players, a full range of movement that was a significant improvement over the dress type shirts they had worn previously.
Polo Shirts Appealed to the Wealthy
These shirts were an instant hit with the public when Lacoste began marketing the shirts in the 1930s. But most of the customers for these shirts consisted of the upper-middle class and the wealthy. These were the people who followed upper-class sports. Tennis was an upper-class sport at the time, and polo still is.
The name “Lacoste” became synonymous with upper-class sportswear and later became part of the ‘preppie uniform’ of wealthy young men. Polo shirts could be found in expensive stores catering to the wealthy. The polo shirt prices at the time also kept them from becoming a fashion item of the less wealthy.
Unforeseen Change in the Market
But in the 80s and 90s, a curious thing happened to the prices of polo shirts.
Generally, most goods continue to rise in price throughout their lifespan in the market due to inflation. As material costs increase, so do the prices of finished goods that use these materials. Cotton and some synthetic fibres used in clothing manufacturing have enjoyed a remarkable run of stability that has made clothing affordable for all people, regardless of their wealth.
However, imprinting a line of clothing with a brand name can increase the price of the clothing and make it affordable only to the wealthy. It’s part of the laws of supply and demand and a standard of capitalism.
Part of the idiosyncrasies of the fashion industry is that it’s an industry where copying a design is accepted as a legitimate business strategy. This fact was illustrated by the “designer jeans” craze of the 80s and 90s. As designers started copying the polo shirt design, And the prices of polo shirts dropped, another unforeseen social phenomenon helped increase the market for polo shirts and encourage every brand to introduce a polo shirt.
Birth of “Smart Casual”
As we entered the new millennium, there was an explosion of new tech companies run by young entrepreneurs and funded by hedge funds and deep-pocket investors. These well-funded young men and women redefined their office spaces and the clothing they chose to wear to the office. The term “smart casual” became a buzzword in the business world, and ties seemed to disappear around the boardroom overnight.
The polo shirt was the perfect shirt for this shift in acceptable office wear. It was as comfortable as a t-shirt but had a collar, so it looked a bit dressier.
As the acceptance of the low-price polo shirt in the workplace increased, managers started using them in the uniforms they provided to their employees, and they were embraced by the business world.
Find out how the low price of polo shirts means you can stock up on them and wear them for every casual event. Contact Polohaus today.