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Did designer Ralph Lauren name his signature men’s collections after his favorite colors? Maybe. While his Green Label is licensed to another firm, his Black Label, known for slim, fashion-forward Italian styling, is 100 percent Lauren, as is Polo, an affordable, conservative cousin. Finally, there’s purple -- the Lauren label that’s trendy and promotes customized styling, making it a popular target for folks in the counterfeiting biz. Look for telltale signs that scream “knock-off,” and you’ll be seen as one sharp cookie.
Factor in the Shirt’s Price
You can immediately tell the difference between a fake and a real Lauren Purple Label shirt by the price tag. You find the $300 Ralph Lauren Purple Label shirt you spotted on the designer’s website with a price tag attached that reads $50 and it’s your honey’s birthday. Summon up your strength and say no; after all, your guy deserves better than a knock-off, and you want to be seen as label savvy.
Check Out Workmanship
You don’t have to be a sewing expert to know a construction mess when you see one. Uneven seams, loose threads, shoddy hems and cheap buttons are typically seen on counterfeits being whipped up fast in back rooms with no quality control systems in place to catch craftsmanship problems. Count your blessings if you’re mulling a check or stripe Purple Label shirt for the dude in your life: Ralph always lines up his checks and stripes at the seam line. Oh, and count the buttons. Rip-off factories may not know that there are usually seven on a Purple Label dress shirt.
Know Your Purples
Your guy might not be a big fan of the color purple unless he’s wild about Oprah or a member of a royal family, so you're going to have to be a color arbiter on his behalf when you shirt shop. Examine the label color stitched into the garment to make certain it matches the proprietary shade of purple that's the hallmark of Lauren's collection. When in doubt, head for a Ralph Lauren boutique so you can see for yourself what the real deal looks like. Then head back to the shirt you're considering with your plastic in hand.
Shop With Your Left Brain Engaged
You’ve kept the secret long enough: Spelling isn’t a skill you can ride to greatness, but you can fake it 'til you make it by having an eagle eye when spotting LORYN, RALF, PURPL and LABLE, misspellings that escape the notice of factory folks in a rush to churn out copycats. Make an immediate Purple Label ID by checking upper and lower case mismatches and word alignment -- even the word “Collection” should be meticulously centered beneath the designer’s name on Purple Labels. Next step: If spelling and layout features look perfect, turn the label over. If it’s the real deal, it’s stitched, not screened or printed.
Vet the Merchant
There are few things in life besides death and taxes that a shopper can count on, but frequenting authentic Ralph Lauren boutiques guarantees you’ll walk away with real Purple Label merchandise. Shop outside official venues, and remain uber vigilant so you don't get ripped off. Website photos can be deceiving -- even if the copy on your favorite auction site promises you love and wealth if you choose that Purple Label shirt for your guy, turn down the deal if you can’t get your money back in case you’ve been fooled into saying yes to a really good knock-off.