Ralph Lauren is one of the few brands which enjoyed it’s heydays throughout the late 1980’s, early 90’s and still manages to resonate with the youth of today.
Over the course of its history the brand as use many aesthetics to draw customers in. Everything from the “cookie logo,” “cross-flags,” American flags, Indian heads, and suicide skiers. Still, none of that compares to the iconic “Polo Bear.”
Sporting some of the best Ralph Lauren outfits, you can spot the bear on hats, tees, hand-knitted sweaters and more. As one of the most sought-after collections, the bear is a fan favorite. Grailed recently sat down with the bear’s creator, Richard Tahsin.
Tahsin opened up about what inspired the bear’s design, his history with the company and his contributions to other popular Ralph Lauren collections.
Unbeknownst to many, he designed most of the pieces people still want today.
He says it was in 1991 when he was first asked to draw the polo bear. “I don’t know who made the original Polo Bear art that looked like a raccoon… there’s actually some real early apparel pieces that have the first version of the bear on it that did not go over too well,” Tahsin said. “I created and drew all the original Bear art from 1991 up to 1996 when I left the company. They’ve always used the same Polo Bear head which is what I created. I would draw all the bodies on the Bear with the correct outfits and such when the designers would come to me,” he added.
Tahsin attributes much of the design inspiration at Ralph Lauren to the trends of previous eras such as the 30’s and 40’s. He admits the brand didn’t see the initial value coming from urban communities. However, he does acknowledge the communities role in popularizing the brand style.
“I don’t think that was ever an overt attempt by the company thinking, “Oh, the Hip Hop culture is going to jump on this and turn it into something…” I mean no. We had no idea. I think the urban community really took to it and built it up in the popular mainstream culture,” he concluded.