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Does anyone know if Ralph Lauren MTM offers sack suit options?

4720 Views 20 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  rl1856
From what I've seen in 2010 they had OTR jackets with standard sack features. Today they offer soft 3/2 rolls via RRL and a "Polo soft coat" with only a soft shoulder.

At some point this year I'd like to pay them a visit but my research has come up empty on what jacket models they offer in their program.

Where I live I can get a great price on H.Freeman MTM but their Nat VI is not a true 3/2, I used to work at BB and don't trust their product, and I'm in California so I don't plan on making it out to J.Press or O'Connells.

If anyone has any experience with Ralph Lauren MTM in the past few years I'd appreciate any feedback.
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LOL, in the 1990s I was doing a sabbatical at the University of Amsterdam, and the Dutch were pushing hard for the EU to become a reality. In one of the Dutch newspapers -- like Het Parool or NRC Handelsblad (or perhaps the London Times, I forget) -- there was a wonderful cartoon, It showed twelve ladies, outfitted like the Rocket City dancers of New York, and wearing sashes with the names of the European nations, doing their thing -- holding hands and kicking their legs, but with one difference. Eleven of them were kicking their left leg in one direction, but the twelfth, at one end, was kicking hers in the opposite direction. Her sash said Great Britain!
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@rl1856: An excellent analysis. Your observations are very well taken. Thank you.

One of the fascinating things about human beings (full disclosure: I am a cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist) is that we simultaneously desire and resist change. On the surface, this may seem like a contradiction, but in fact, it isn't. We like the idea of progress and want life, in general, to improve for ourselves and our children. At the same time, we find stasis comforting in many areas of our lives, especially within domestic life. Things that are familiar are soothing and whatever leads to their disappearance provokes anxiety in us. Sartorial styles and items are part of this general process. So we cling to a particular style of dressing and to articles of clothing that form this style, and want those things to be constant in our lives. Unfortunately change sweeps away many things in its path, and the world changes around us. And as we grow older, this change becomes increasingly discomfiting.

I think this is the broader process that has led to our frustrations with Brooks Brothers, or other makers who appear to have abandoned us. But, as @rl1856 points out so eloquently, it is something that BB and others are compelled to do if they wish to survive in some form. If they want to escape market forces, they need money and support from generous pockets that will enable them to survive within the older tradition and not succumb to the forces of the new. In fact, this sort of support is precisely what has helped J Press remain the bastion of unchanging, conservative Trad/Ivy dressing -- support from Japan, a source that, at least originally, must have surprised most Americans. The Japanese provided this support because for a long time, there have been elements of Japanese society that admired Ivy style and contributed to a resurgence of interest in it within Japan. More broadly, Japan has also adopted western habits and manners in clothing over the last century or more, in areas far wider than Ivy, especially in formal clothing.

I can't help drawing a comparison to the idea of cargo cults discussed by cultural anthropologists and ethnographers (another full disclosure: I used to be married to one). Cargo cults (mainly post-WW II) refer to the great admiration and enthusiasm, seen first among Melanesians and Pacific Islanders, for objects that were part of Western society. These objects were introduced by European colonizers, often through airdrops, when they invaded or acquired many of these nations and islands. Colonialism depends on the extraction of raw materials and wealth from the subject nations and also creating markets in those nations for the sale of finished products to further enrich the colonizer. Cargo cults are an almost bizarre outgrowth of this process. Briefly, a cargo cult is a system of beliefs and rituals among indigenous peoples that they trust will induce a more advanced society with technological prowess to deliver desirable goods to them. You can read more about this in the link at the end of this post.

My point here is that Japanese behavior toward Western clothing has an intriguing parallel in cargo cults, although in a more modern way. There are major differences: Japanese society is technologically advanced, and quite the equal of Western societies in skill and craftsmanship in clothing, although this was not the case a few decades ago. But their adulation of Ivy Style and their attempts to recreate and reinvigorate a fashion that they feared was becoming an anachronism or even moribund, does appear to resemble the worshipful attitudes of the nations that formed the old cargo cults. In the fine attention to detailed work in many articles of clothing made in Japan, I see some of the old rituals associated with cargo cults. And this is all the more significant because traditional Japanese style in clothing -- kimonos, haoris, getas, etc. -- has literally nothing to do with western dress!

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As always, eagle, you are a generous friend and gracious commenter. Thanks heaps for your kind words. And a very merry Christmas to you too!
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rl1856: Well said. I believe we try to maintain a forum for civil discourse and welcome all contributions from people with a range of backgrounds and styles of thought. I hope things stay that way. In a world where civility seems to exist increasingly in the breach rather than the observance, AAAC remains a relatively tranquil forum.
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Your points are well made. Regarding the idea that the Melanasians were "technologically and intellectually challenged", I do have some comments:

First, the idea of technology as it developed in the West isn't necessarily the only way in which techniques and methods can be used in consistent ways to achieve desired goals. The one most important criterion is adaptability to the environment in which a society lives. The use of cognitive skills and abilities to achieve solutions that are adaptable and safe would be more important than any specific type of technology.

For example, those Pacific Islanders developed a system of navigation that enabled them to cross vast stretches of the ocean without instruments like sextants, telescopes and other gear. This system is called etak, and it is a system of celestial navigation that uses the positions of stars observed with the naked eye, plus a close study of currents, driftwood and other items that float on the surface of the sea. Birds and their nature and flight directions are also used. Etak itself is descrbed here:

Etak looks very different from computer-aided navigation systems on a modern sailing vessel. But it is, in its own way, quite sophisticated. Because Europeans privileged their own view of technology and intellectual capacity in light of their own considerable accomplishments -- I'll certainly grant that -- they also tended to discount those of other cultures alien to their own, and thereby missed some of the significant developments that took place elsewhere. Some instances:

The original Australian people, who had settled the continent around 40,000 years ago developed a fairly sophisticated system of understanding, where they created a philosophy and a worldview that was quite different from Western ideas. They also had their own technology for surviving in the outback, although this did not involve the usual machinery seen in the west. The great film Walkabout shows some of this technology, where an aboriginal boy helps two white children survive in the bush.

Lord Macaulay famously claimed, in the 19th century, that a single shelf of English books would be far superior to anything ever produced in India. This was an India that he had little idea of, other than to be part of a colonizing country which had effectively seized power through cunning and military prowess. Macaulay did not know Sanskrit, or much of any of the other Indian languages. Since his pronouncement, the west has come to realize that there is a tradition of complex intellectual and cultural accomplishment in India that had continued over a couple of millenia, although its development and methods, its ontology and epistemology, were quite distinct from that of the west. In fact there were schools of mathematics that produced many of the results that we call Power Series (Taylor's and Maclaurin's series), and the basic ideas of trigonometry were known to the Indians, although in a format that was different from western mathematics.

There are many other examples of technology and intellectual accomplishment in non-western societies that can be described, but my point is that there isn't a single yardstick to suggest that one system is superior to the rest. If one regards one's own society as superior, there can be bad consequences as well. European beliefs about their superiority also led to all sorts of ill-treatment meted out to colonized peoples. And the technology of the west, while doing great things for all human beings, also led to some catastrophic results that are unfolding even now. But that's another story.
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Incredible posts, above. I will re-read, many times.

Nothing to add, really, except an expression of gratitude for the intelligence displayed here.
Very gracious of you to compliment rl1856, the other contributors and myself. Thanks very much indeed.
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