Photo: Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Ralph Lauren first started the Polo label in 1967. Although the classic horse and rider design started on neck ties, it soon crossed over to the now-classic collared Polo shirt. Since Ralph Lauren Polos have become an industry standard in men's business casual fashion, nefarious people have begun selling fakes. If you're set on buying an authentic Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, learn the signs to avoid ending up with a clever imitation.
Look at the label inside the Polo shirt. Study the spelling of "Ralph Lauren." Some counterfeiters alter the spelling of the brand name by just a few letters. If it's spelled incorrectly, it's obviously fake. Check the spelling of the care instructions and fabric composition, as there may be spelling mistakes there as well. If the label feels like it's made out of cheap material or that it could fall out when lightly tugged, it's counterfeit.
Examine the Ralph Lauren Polo logo on the breast of the shirt. This small logo, representing a horse and rider, varies depending on the shirt. Real Ralph Lauren Polos will have either multi-colored logos or logos of one solid color. The thread of a real logo will all have the same matte finish. If there are shiny threads interspersed into the design, it's a fake. The solid-colored logos should not have any white threads sticking through the design.
Turn the shirt inside out and examine the other side of the horse and rider logo. The quality of the back side should look nearly identical to the design on the front side of the Polo shirt. If there are any loose threads or sloppy stitching, it's a bogus Ralph Lauren Polo.
Examine the thread used to stitch the Polo shirt together. Authentic Ralph Lauren Polo shirts will use a thread the same or similar color as the shirt. If the thread is a contrasting color, then you probably have a fake. As you examine the stitching, pull at the seams. Since Ralph Lauren uses high quality thread and expensive sewing machines, the seams should be straight. If you find the seams bulging or can see many mistakes in the seams, this is instead a poorly made imitation.
Feel the fabric of the Polo shirt. Ralph Lauren is a high-end fashion designer. The brand uses high quality fabrics even for its ready-to-wear Polo collection. The fabric should be smooth with a high thread count. If it feels cheap, then it's a sham.