Trends - Rugged Fashion

Rugby Shirts Growing In Popularity At Retail And Imprinted Market

Rugby ShirtsWhile rugby shirts began as the traditional uniform of rugby players, the style was long ago appropriated into fall and winter fashion wear. Retailers like L.L. Bean, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren are offering rugby shirts this season for a preppy or outdoors-ready look for both men and women. Rugby shirts' 100% cotton or cotton/polyester constructions are durable and warm, and the collar provides extra protection from the elements.

"The traditional rugby stripe is key on this item," says Kate Souza, public relations specialist at Charles River Apparel (asi/44620), of the supplier's Classic Rugby Shirt (9278) for men and women. "We opted for a higher-quality yarn-dyed stripe where the garment is actually woven into the stripe pattern, as opposed to pieces of colored fabric being sewn together. We feel this produces a much nicer-feeling garment with a higher-end construction."

The shirt is available in eight color combinations, four of which are new to the 2013 line. The garment also features a traditional heavy-duty twill collar with reinforced stitching and rubber buttons.

"This piece can truly stand up to the test of a grueling game of rugby," says Souza.

Charles River sees sales of rugby shirts year-round, with some bounce in the spring and fall with schools and teams. "Teens and college students are a key market for this item, as it is a great spirit piece," says Souza. "We're seeing a trend in retail with '90s vintage-inspired items, which has brought this look back and is giving it mass appeal."

The corporate marketplace is also a good target for rugby shirts: Companies are offering the classic rugby in their online stores as a casual Friday or weekend-wear item for employees. Charles River also suggests the look to distributors selling to schools as an add-on to the traditional school uniform.

"Paired with khakis," Souza says, "the rugby shirt looks very preppy and presentable in a school setting."